Italy achieved their first win under coach Nick Mallett when they beat Scotland 23-20 in Rome.
It took a drop-kick from fullback Andrea Marcato in the 79th minute to secure the win, but Italy thoroughly deserved their victory. Mallett’s men still did not avoid receiving the wooden spoon, but their performances throughout the 6 Nations campaign have been heartening – with Wales the only team to give them a hiding.
The two bottom-placed teams were greeted with a perfect Rome day, and they replied by giving the packed Stadio Flamini crowd an extremely entertaining game. Both teams only scored two tries, but their willingness and intent was extremely admirable with only finishing costing the respective teams on occasions.
Italy dominated the scrums throughout, and were rewarded with a penalty try in the 15th minute when the Scots deliberately collapsed the set-piece. But the Scots found some parity and scored 17 unanswered points late in the half to go into the break 17-10 up.
The Italian comeback was sparked by captain and eighthman Sergio Parisse’s intercept when Scotland were about to score at the other end. Parisse ran 40 metres and offloaded to centre Gonzalo Canale who scored under the poles.
Marcato’s boot was solid all day, and when his forwards set up the opportunity for the final drop, there was never any doubt. The win was greeted with rapturous cheers from the home crowd, while the emotion Parisse showed clearly indicated the meaning of the win for the Italians.
Italy – tries: penalty try (1), Gonzalo Canale (1); conversions: Andrea Marcato (2); Penalties: Marcato (2); drop kicks: Marcato (1).
Scotland – Tries: Allister Hogg (1), Mike Blair (1), Conversions: Chris Paterson (2), penalties: Paterson (2).
By Grant Ball