Italy Women V Scotland Women
Three Six Nations games down and Scotland Women are showing signs of what they are capable of under full-time Head Coach Shade Munro.
With muddy conditions underfoot, Italy Women kicked off proceedings at Stadio Arcoveggio in Bologna and scored three tries to Scotland’s one to claim the victory.
Scotland Women were gusty in defence and created plenty of opportunities in attack but lacked discipline and finishing in what was a hard slog on the continent.
But the Scots held on to their belief for the full 80-minutes and stepped it up a gear in the second-half resulting in an intercept try by centre Lisa Thomson, her first for Scotland, which hooker Lana Skeldon converted with ease.
Run of play
Within minutes, Italy found themselves with a chance to score but the blockade they faced was too immense. Before they knew it, Scotland were on the attack and a strong driving maul from a line-out looked dangerous.
After a series of exchanges, the Italians forced their way back inside the five-metre line only for player of the match Melissa Bettoni to emerge from a pile of bodies and dive over to score the first try of the match at the 16-minute mark. Francesca Schiavon missed her attempt at the sticks to keep the score at 5-0.
The Scots fought back with good hands and good phases, but again found themselves defending their line and a lapse in, what was otherwise well organised, defence enabled prop Elisa Cuchiella to cross the whitewash out wide, with Schiavon adding the extras (12-0).
Scotland scrum-half Jenny Maxwell was then yellow carded at the breakdown with Schiavon slotting the penalty to extend Italy’s lead at 33 minutes (15-0).
A final flurry from an ambitious Scotland before the half-time whistle set the mood for things to come …
Half-time: Italy Women 15 – 0 Scotland
It didn’t take long for Italy to score for a third and final time before passionate home support with full-back Manuela Furlan dotting over in the right corner and a successful conversion from the boot of Schiavon (22-0).
Scotland came back firing and took it to Italy. Possession, quick ball and a desire to break through was rewarded with a marvellous intercept try 10 minutes into the second-half.
After snatching the ball, centre Lisa Thomson bolted up the paddock covering 70 metres and fending off several defenders to score next to the posts.
Following her confident kicking in Wales, hooker Lana Skeldon added the extras with ease to put her team back in the game (22-7).
Among the fresh legs in the second-half was prop Heather Lockhart, who made an impact on her 80th cap.
Opportunities kept arising for Scotland, particularly when they sent the ball out wide, but were unable to finish off in the outside channels.
A comeback seemed possible with the amount of effort and desire oozing from the Scots, who left everything out on the pitch, but it wasn’t too be and the Italians walked away with their first win of the 2016 Women’s Six Nations.