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Scotland Women were left rueing the cost of some basic errors at the end of an otherwise solid attacking first half performance that leaves them with all to do in the final FIRA WRWC 2014 qualifying match, against Sweden, on Saturday (28 April).
With the scores level, 3-3, after 34m turnover ball twice in succession allowed the Italians to score and convert, putting them 17-3 ahead at the whistle. The gap was too much and a further converted try and penalty in the second half made it 27-3 by the final whistle, some solid tackling preventing the Italians scoring again to take a bonus point.
Head coach Karen Findlay said: "We're really disappointed. The game was obviously a big focus for both teams and now we're going into our third round games knowing it's going to be a difficult run in. Our fate isn't in our own hands any more.
"We attacked really well, Tanya Griffith [below] at 10 kicked outstandingly well today to give us great territory, giving the forwards something to run on to but we just didn't capitalise on that. To concede two tries before half time was really careless of us. We set a good game plan today - to play in the wide channel - and that was on. And maybe just through a bit of game-plan naivety, not sticking to it as rigidly as we should have, we made it really difficult for ourselves.
"We're going to have to go out and play some of the best attacking rugby we've ever played on Saturday against Sweden and wait and see how the other results go."
A nervy start, with both teams focussed on the World Cup place at stake, caused some errors with Italy winning the first penalty after five minutes. The kick pinged off the metal uprights but a second opportunity, called for offside, sailed through ten minutes later.
Scotland burst back with some fine attack, prop Heather Lockhart ploughing through the Italian defence and winger Megan Gaffney [above] making some impressive breaks and tackles out wide. Clearly unsettled, the Italians began to make errors culminating in a penalty in front of the posts, successfully slotted by Dalgliesh.
Less than five minutes from half time, and with the Scots exerting pressure in all areas turnover ball in the Italian half saw the opposition make for the gap and head off upfield, resulting in a converted score. Barely two minutes later, it was a similar story as they flew up the wing, with the same result making the half-time score 17-3.
Some great attack from the Scots in the second half was negated by moments when the focus was lost and loose ball capitalised on by the Italians leading to impressive try-saving tackles from Gaffney and centre Annabel Sergeant. Pinged for a technical infringement with replacement winger Lyndsay O'Donnell sitting it out on a yellow card, Scotland lost another penalty which increased Italy's lead to 20-3 after 51 minutes.
The sapping heat was causing errors on both sides then, after a Scotland scrum, some clinical pick and goes and a great break by Gaffney the ball went loose and was kicked upfield, from almost the halfway line by the Italian scrum half Barattin who chased and touched down, the score converted. Despite a massive effort from the Scots, and a mature performance from replacement scrum half Sarah Law, the scoreline remained 27-3 to the final whistle.
Scotland now face Sweden in their final match of the qualifier on Saturday (28 April, kick-off 12.30pm local, 1.30pm BST) at the Central University Stadium, Madrid. Still in with a chance to reach WRWC 2014, much of their fate will lie in the hands of the results of Saturday's other games with Italy meeting Spain and Samoa taking on the Netherlands. The match will be streamed live and there will be Twitter updates - follow @scotlandteam.
Catch the ongoing series of player video profiles on their biography pages of the Scottish Rugby web site.
15 Katy Green (Darlington Mowden Park)
14 Sarah Dixon (RHC Cougars)
13 Annabel Sergeant (Richmond)
12 Gillian Inglis (Melrose)
11 Megan Gaffney (Hillhead Jordanhill)
10 Tanya Griffith (RHC Cougars)
9 Louise Dalgliesh (RHC Cougars)
1 Heather Lockhart (Hillhead Jordanhill)
2 Lindsey Smith (Hillhead Jordanhill)
3 Tracy Balmer (Worcester)
4 Lindsay Wheeler (Richmond)
5 Becca Parker (Hillhead Jordanhill)
6 Jade Konkel (Hillhead Jordanhill)
7 Tess Forsberg (Richmond)
8 Susie Brown (Richmond) (c) [right]
16 Suzy McKerlie-Hex (Murrayfield Wanderers)(unused)
17 Nikki McLeod (Morgan)(on for Smith, 68m)
18 Beth Dickens (Murrayfield Wanderers) (on for Balmer, 72m)
19 Bridget Millar-Mills (Worcester)(on for Gaffney, 76m)
20 Samantha Beale (Hillhead Jordanhill)(on for Konkel, 52m)
21 Sarah Law (Murrayfield Wanderers)(on for Dalgliesh, 52m)
22 Lisa Martin (Murrayfield Wanderers)(on for Green, 60m)
23 Lyndsay O'Donnell (Worcester)(on for Dixon, 3m)
Referee: M Chalon (FFR)
Twelve teams will take part in Women's Rugby World Cup 2014. There are six automatic qualifiers: reigning world champions New Zealand, 2010 runners up England, 2010 bronze medallists Australia, 2014 hosts France plus USA and Canada by virtue of their top six placing at WRWC 2010.
Ireland and Wales, as the two highest placed teams on aggregate from the 2012 and 2013 6 Nations (outside of automatic qualifiers England and France), have also secured their places. The top two teams will qualify from the Madrid tournament with the two remaining sides coming from yet to be determined Africa and Asia qualifiers.