Gregor Townsend felt Scotland’s superior fitness was crucial after they “found a way to win” against Italy in a Six Nations thriller.
The hosts appeared on course to end a 16-game losing streak in the tournament when they led 24-12 early in the second half in Rome, only to fade badly down the stretch.
Scotland scored late tries through Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg and, while Italy briefly edged back ahead through Tommaso Allan’s boot, Greig Laidlaw settled a see-saw game in favour of the visitors.
Filling in at fly-half after an injury to Finn Russell, Laidlaw held his nerve to convert a 79th-minute penalty and clinch a 29-27 victory that left Townsend praising the spirit in his squad.
“To come together, to find a way of winning is important in how we develop as a team,” he told BBC Scotland.
“It obviously wasn’t our best rugby, but we found a way to win and that’s a credit to the players on the field.
“Italy played really well, they played their best game [of the season] and in this championship we know it’s very tough to win away from home – no matter who you play.
“Italy were unlucky against England at the beginning of the season. They’ve shown since then they can play some really good rugby, they were very direct at times and their power showed in that first half.
“I believe our fitness probably won us the game, though. We certainly looked the stronger team in the second half.”
— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 17, 2018
KEO.co.za News wire is powered by opta