Italy U20 v Scotland U20
It was a game of spirit, determination and tries aplenty as Scotland U20 secured their first win of the 2020 Six Nations against Italy in dramatic fashion at Stadio Mirabello (29-30).
In a frantic, free-flowing and fluid first-half, the two sides played a back-and-forth game which saw Italy hold a slender two-point lead going into the interval.
It was Italy who looked more in control in the opening of the second-half, but a remarkable comeback from Scotland saw them snatch victory in the final moments of the game.
The young Scots got off to a bright start, dominating the early exchanges, with their first opening coming inside ten minutes of the game when some great interplay between the forwards and backs bought space for scrum-half Kyle McGhie to power over the line (0-5).
Chamberlain was unlucky with the conversion which bounced off the posts.
Italy’s response followed six minutes later, when a well-taken line-out allowed the forwards to pull together to barrel their way towards the line. Scrum-half Manfredi Albanese picked up the ball from the base of the ruck and bustled his way through the defence to come dangerously close to the try line.
It was Manuel Zuliani, however, who was able to seal the first points on the scoreboard for the Azzurri with a try from close range, with captain Paolo Garbisi adding the extras (7-5).
Strong carries from Rory Darge, Connor Boyle and Mak Wilson helped to make solid ground for the Scots, despite meeting some bruising tackles from a physical Italian defence. Shortly afterwards, some well-worked hands allowed Robbie McCallum to feed to Rufus McLean who finished smartly in the corner (7-10).
Chamberlain held his nerve with the tricky conversion, and was able to extend his side’s lead as the ball split the uprights (7-12).
The Italian’s retort was prompt, however, when Federico Mori slipped down the touchline to score in the corner, with Garbisi adding the extras (14-12).
The Scots were close to producing some magic when an eagle-eyed Chamberlain drilled an accurate cross-field kick to McLean, however, an unfortunate knock-on from the winger stopped them in their tracks.
HALF-TIME: Italy U20 14-12 Scotland U20
The hosts came out firing in the second-half and were able to extend their lead through a successful penalty by Garbisi (17-12).
Henderson, who looked dangerous whenever he had possession of the ball, broke through the defence to bring the side thundering into the opposition’s 22 before being bundled into touch.
Moments later, Scotland’s persistence was rewarded with a successful penalty by Chamberlain to keep the scoreboard ticking (17-15).
It wasn’t long until Italy produced their next score as a clever grubber kick by Garbisi was collected by full-back Jacopo Trulla who cantered his way over the whitewash, with another successful penalty by Garbisi (24-15).
On the 43rd minute, Chamberlain was handed another sight at goal and pin-point accuracy saw the stand-off stroke the ball through the posts (24-18).
In ruthless style, the Italian’s fought their way back towards the try line, however, there was a huge sigh of relief from the Scots when Lorenzo Cannone’s try was chalked off as a result of double movement.
Following another series of sustained pressure, Italy were able to stretch their lead when winger Michael Mba displayed an enthralling turn of pace to win the foot-race into the corner (29-18).
Just when things started to look difficult for the Scots, a little spark of inspiration from Robbie McCallum saw the centre collect a loose ball and dart over the line to rein the visitors back into contention (29-23).
Buoyed by the growing momentum, the plucky Scots looked fired up in the final ten minutes and continued to assert their dominance in attack.
The side seized their opportunity on the 72nd minute following well-taken line-out which saw Scotland make ground with a powerful driving maul. The ball eventually found Boyle who reached out under the posts to score, with Harry Paterson successfully converting the score to take the lead (29-30).
A nervous seven minutes ensued as the visitors tried to run down the clock and desperately hold on to the narrow lead. In the dying moments of the game, Scotland were awarded a penalty – to which Paterson missed – however the final whistle was blown as the visitors celebrated their crucial away win.
FULL-TIME: Italy U20 29-30 Scotland U20
live commentary 6:00 PM Friday 21 Feb 2020
Kyle McGhie9. Scrum half
Nathan Chamberlain10. Flyhalf
Jacob Henry11. Left Wing
Robbie McCallum12. Inside Centre
Matthew Currie13. Outside Centre
Rufus McLean14. Right Wing
Ollie Smith15. Full Back
Thomas Lambert1. Loosehead
Ewan Ashman2. Hooker
Mak Wilson3. Tighthead
Kieran Watt4. Lock
Cameron Henderson5. Lock
Gregor Brown6. Blindside Flanker
Rory Darge7. Openside Flanker
Connor Boyle8. Number 8