Scotland travelled to this match in southern Italy with a degree of optimism, despite heavy defeats in the first two matches against Ireland and England. There were positives to be taken from both performances as Scotland had long periods of possession in both games but had lacked a cutting edge when it came to troubling the scoreboard.
It was evident from the outset that the sense of optimism had been misplaced. Scotland misfired in attack with basic handling errors giving the team no impetus going forward.
In contrast Italy made inroads into Scottish territory relying on short simple passing giving them plenty of front-foot ball.
Scotland Women head coach, Jules Maxton said: “We made basic errors out there and that cost us dear.
"We need to perform more effectively and we need to maintain focus for eighty minutes.
“This team can do better but they didn’t help themselves yesterday.”
It was the home side who opened the scoring account for the day. Scotland defended well on their own line but eventually numbers told and back-row Irene Campanini, flopped over for the first try of the game. Awa Coulibay, the Italian stand-off converted, the number 10’s superb kicking, a recurring theme throughout the match.
Their lead lengthened moments later when the home side broke effectively down the right wing, with Silvia Guadino dotting down in the corner.
The penalty count against the Scots hindered any real chance they had of making their way back into the match. Italy were then awarded yet another penalty in front of the Scottish posts. Coulibay, who had converted both tries from well out had no trouble with this one, taking Italy 17 points ahead.
Italy added two further tries through full-back Elisa Giordano and centre Marta Ferrari, giving them a 29-0 lead at the half-time whistle.
The Azzurri continued the onslaught as the teams emerged for the second-half. Coulibay slotting yet another two penalties in addition to further tries from outside-centre Manuela Furlan and replacement lock Beatrice Rigoni, none of which were converted, stretching their lead to 45-0.
Scotland were desperate to take something from the game and a forcing run from Lisa Robertson saw the prop stopped just short. The ball was fed out to the right and Annabel Sergeant scored Scotland’s first Six Nations try for two years.
Scotland were desperate to salvage something from what has been an otherwise disappointing performance and it took until the 69minute to find that creative spark. Replacement prop Lisa Robertson, led the charge with a barnstorming charge toward the line and was taken down just short. From the contact the ball was sharply shipped wide to the right wing where Annabel Sergeant scampered over the line to score Scotland’s only points of the game.
Scotland team: Steph Johnston; Annabel Sergeant, Gillian Inglis, Laura Steven, Katy Green; Lisa Martin, Louise Dalgliesh; Heather Lockhart, Lindsey Smith, Tracy Balmer (captain), Deborah McCormack, Emma Wassell, Ruth Slaven, Tess Forsberg and Anna Stodter.
Replacements: Lana Skeldon, Lisa Robertson, Karen Dunbar, Jade Konkel, Rachael Cook, Sarah Law, Tanya Griffith and Emily Irving.
Italy team: Elisa Giordano; Silvia Gaudino, Manuela Furlan, Marta Ferrari, Michela Este; Awa Coulibay, Maria Grazia Cioffi; Ilaria Arrighetti, Debora Ballarini, Sara Barratin, Melissa Bettoni, Monica Bruno, Chiara Buongiorno, Lucia Cammarano and Irene Campanini.
Replacements: Maria Magatti, Christina Molic, Alessia Pantarotto, Beatrice Rigoni, Veronica Schiavon, Michaela Sillari, Sofia Stefan and Alice Trevisan.