Italy avoid wooden spoon finish
17 Mar 2012
Italy picked up their only win of this year’s Six Nations when they beat Scotland 13-6 in Rome.
Both teams were winless heading into this fixture, which meant this match determined who would finish last on the log. With Italy suffering five consecutive wooden spoon finishes and head coach Jacques Brunel looking for his first triumph, the Azzurri ran out a determined outfit in front of a 70 000-strong Stadio Olimpico, which has hosted famous victories over Scotland before.
Italy have won the last two clashes against the visitors in Rome, a 16-12 win in 2010 and a 23-20 victory in 2008. They completed the hat-trick in an error-strewn clash, with wing Giovanbattista Venditti scoring the defining try early in the second half.
Overall, it was an ill-disciplined affair that saw three yellow cards issued by referee Alain Rolland, while both sides will be lamented for their poor work at the set-pieces and numerous unforced errors on attack. Defence was the highlight of this match, as both teams’ guards stood strong.
Scotland head coach Andy Robinson will remember this as his charges’ worst performance of his tenure as they were poor in all departments – a few damning statistics revealed that the Scots only beat one defender in 62 ball carries, they only had 33% of possession and they lost six of their own lineout feeds – most of them in try-scoring range.
The half-time score was deadlocked at 3-3, with wing Mirco Bergamasco and flyhalf Greig Laidlaw trading penalties. The hosts could’ve held the lead at the break if it wasn’t for Bergamasco’s poor accuracy from the kicking tee as he missed two goal attempts. Scotland suffered a telling blow before the end of the first 40 when outside centre Nick de Luca was sent to the sin bin for dangerous play.
Italy capitalised on their one-man advantage in the second half when Venditti beat two defenders in a strong run to the whitewash. Scotland reduced the deficit when Laidlaw converted his second three-pointer, but this was cancelled out when flyhalf Kris Burton kicked a late drop goal.
It was nervous finish for the Azzurri, as Scotland built late momentum. However, the latter’s errors on attack and at the lineouts spoilt their opportunities in the hosts’ red zone. Both teams received yellow cards in the final half hour, with lock Jim Hamilton and flanker Alessandro Zanni punished for foul play at a lineout and breakdown respectively.
It didn’t have any major influence on the match, though, as the Italians went on to achieve victory. The result left Scotland whitewashed this year.
By Gareth Duncan