Scotland 23-12 Italy

By Andy BurkeBBC Scotland at Murrayfield

Scotland secured a comfortable victory over Italy in their final warm-up match before the World Cup.

Tries from Alasdair Dickinson and Mike Blair either side of half-time proved to be the difference between the sides in an error-ridden affair.

Italy scored tries of their own through Tommaso Benvenuti and Fabio Semenzato.

But Scotland, who late on, held on for a confidence-boosting win, with Dan Parks kicking the other points.

Scotland had made 14 changes from the side that defeated Ireland 10-6 in their previous warm-up match, with Glasgow centre Graeme Morrison the only survivor.

Italy, meanwhile, were closer to full strength, having made 11 changes since their narrow win over Japan.

The home side showed their attacking intent from the off, running the ball from deep in their own half.

Rory Lamont made a searing break after two minutes, side-stepping three tackles before off-loading to Richie Vernon.

The Italians were penalised at the subsequent breakdown and Parks put the Scots 3-0 in front.

It got better for Scotland 10 minutes in. After some good phase play in the Italian 22, Max Evans wriggled free of a weak challenge and found Dickinson on his shoulder, leaving the prop with the easiest of finishes for his first international try.

Parks added the conversion to put the hosts 10-0 up.

Despite the Italians being pinned back in their own 22 for almost the entire opening 20 minutes, some sloppy handling prevented Scotland adding to their lead.

That proved to be costly as Italy sucker-punched the Scots from a scrum on their own five-metre line.

Captain Sergio Parisse combined at the base of the scrum with Semenzato to send full-back Andrea Masi into space.

The ball was kept alive and winger Benvenuti outpaced the covering defence to score. Mirco Bergamasco added the extras.

That try seemed to knock the home side off course and, had it not been for a missed penalty attempt by Bergamasco, their advantage would have been wiped out.

Parks made no mistake with a routine penalty on the stroke of half-time.

Scotland started the second half as they had ended the first, error-strewn and wasteful in possession.

On 48 minutes, Italy moved the ball wide along the backline and without any great invention created an overlap and Semenzato broke through a poor tackle by Richie Vernon to dive over the line. Bergamasco failed with the conversion.

The response from Scotland was only five minutes in coming.

There seemed little danger as Masi prepared to clear his lines with a punt downfield. He took too long though and scrum-half Blair charged the kick down and was first to the loose ball to score. Parks made no mistake with the conversion.

The fly-half nudged Scotland into a 23-12 lead with a penalty just three minutes later.

Scotland were now back on top, but handling errors and turnovers in the contact area continued to hinder their scoring chances.

There were several bright spots for the Scots, not least a man-of-the-match display from centre Nick de Luca.

However, winger Walker's World Cup hopes could be in doubt after he was forced off with a knee injury with just a few minutes remaining.

Scotland: R. Lamont, Evans, De Luca, Morrison, Danielli, Parks, Blair, Dickinson, S. Lawson, Low, Hines, Kellock, Brown, Barclay, Vernon. Replacements: Walker for Danielli (55), Jackson for Parks (65), Cusiter for Blair (61), D. Hall for S. Lawson (74), Murray for Low (57), Gray for Hines (61), Rennie for Vernon (72).

Italy: Masi, Benvenuti, Canale, Garcia, M. Bergamasco, Orquera, Semenzato, Lo Cicero, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Del Fava, van Zyl, Derbyshire, Barbieri, Parisse. Replacements: Bocchino for Orquera (56), Cittadini for Lo Cicero (76), D'Apice for Ghiraldini (40), Furno for Del Fava (51), Zanni for Derbyshire (62). Not Used: Bortolami, Canavosio.

Att: 20,245

Ref: Dave Pearson (RFU).

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