Six Nations: Italy 27-29 Scotland
|2018 Six Nations|
|Italy (17) 27|
|Tries: Allan 2, Minozzi Cons: Allan 3 Pens: Allan 2|
|Scotland (12) 29|
|Tries: Brown, Barclay, Maitland, Hogg Cons: Laidlaw 3 Pen: Laidlaw|
Greig Laidlaw's 79th-minute Scotland penalty denied Italy their first Six Nations victory since 2015 in Rome.
Tommaso Allan had booted Italy ahead in a dramatic final 10 minutes, before Laidlaw's decisive strike.
Former Scotland Under-20 fly-half Allan contributed 22 points, including a try in each half, and also set up Matteo Minozzi to touch down.
Fraser Brown, John Barclay, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg scored for the Scots, who earned a try bonus point.
Gregor Townsend's men were frequently pedestrian and error-strewn in possession, but battled back from 12 points down in the second half.
Scrum-half Laidlaw's late kick claimed the visitors their first away championship win since beating Italy two years ago.
The Scots have matched their 2017 tally of three wins from five, while winless Italy pick up the wooden spoon.
For much of this battle, Scotland were blasted to the high heavens by the explosiveness of the Italians, the rampant ball-carrying of lock Dean Budd and, until they started to fade later on, the colossal back-row trio, Sebastian Negri, Jake Polledri and captain Sergio Parisse.
Parisse was on 99 Test defeats and some fans almost wept for him when 99 became 100. At the end, he stood in shock at what had happened. The one that got away.
Scotland looked buried for so long, seemingly undone by Italian power and their own horrendous error count. Credit to them for digging it out. Credit to Laidlaw for holding his nerve at the death.
The visitors, for long periods, were mistake-ridden, physically dominated, routed at the breakdown and lost in so many ways. After a couple of minutes they coughed up their first line-out and seconds later Huw Jones forced a pass to WP Nel. The chain of blunders went from there.
Allan put Italy ahead with the boot, a score that was wiped out when the Scots showed a rare modicum of accuracy and composure, Hamish Watson throwing a long pass out to the right wing where Brown scooped it up to score.
That, in turn, was matched when Allan cut through a gap left open by Jones to score at the posts. Converting his own try, Italy led 10-5.
The Azzurri had the bit between their teeth. Debutant Polledri carried and carried. Running from deep with a ferocity Scotland couldn't handle, they scored a second try just after the opening quarter.
Its origins lay in Finn Russell kicking out on the full. Italy hit it up - and then struck for glory, the wonderful Allan grubbering beautifully for Minozzi to beat Watson to the touch-down.
For the exciting full-back, it was a fourth try in row in this Six Nations. With the conversion, Italy now led 17-5. To that point, they had 78% possession and had forced Scotland into making 78 tackles. It was Cardiff, and the Scots' opening-day humiliation at the hands of Wales, revisited.
They showed they still had a pulse when a monster maul - and how significant the maul was to prove for the Scots - allowed Barclay to go over to narrow the gap to five.
Scotland were steeped in luck that it remained a five-point game at the break for Italy looked to all the world that they'd scored again just before half-time. No matter. They scored just after half-time instead.
Two minutes into the new half, having turned Scotland over yet again and after Negri had battered through Jonny Gray, it looked like they'd scored a third try.
Negri was celebrating when the TMO was consulted and the try ruled out for a Giulio Bisegni knock-on. It was a lucky break for Scotland, but they couldn't lift the siege.
Zander Fagerson's spilled ball, Ryan Wilson's missed tackle on Polledri, Laidlaw's flailing miss on the same rampaging forward got the hosts in behind Scotland. Polledri gave it to Allan and away he went. Try, conversion, Italy ahead 24-12.
Italy blew a golden overlap soon after and, finally, Scotland stirred. Another maul, a long skip pass from Laidlaw and Maitland was over in the corner.
With 10 minutes left, a 35m maul and a lot of patience gave Hogg a gap to run through - and run through it he did. Laidlaw added the extras and Scotland had hit the front, 26-24.
The endgame was hugely dramatic. With five minutes left, after Jonny Gray was penalised on the floor, Allan put over the kick to inch Italy back into a one-point lead.
With one minute left, after the home side collapsed a maul, Laidlaw had his seismic moment out on the right.
His kick was high and true and life-saving. Scotland had pulled it from the fire. The cruellest of cruel days for Italy. For Scotland, a deeply sobering experience but a third win of the season - and blessed relief.
|6 (1)||Scrums won (lost)||4 (0)|
|7 (0)||Line-outs won (lost)||12 (2)|
|107 (5)||Rucks/mauls won (lost)||125 (3)|
|27||Kicks from hand||27|
|149 (19)||Tackles made (missed)||158 (15)|
Italy: Minozzi, Benvenuti, Bisegni, Castello, Bellini, Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Polledri, Parisse (capt).
Replacements: Fabiani (for Ghiraldini, 77), Quaglio (for Lovotti, 59), Pasquali, Steyn (for Zanni, 53), Licata (for Polledri, 67), Palazzani (for Violi, 67), Canna (for Castello, 74), Hayward (for Benvenuti, 59).
Scotland: Hogg, Seymour, Jones, Grigg, Maitland, Russell, Laidlaw, Reid, Brown, Nel, Swinson, J Gray, Barclay (capt), Watson, Wilson.
Replacements: McInally (for Brown, 40), Bhatti (for Reid, 40), Fagerson (for Nel, 40), Gray (for Swinson, 53), Denton (for Wilson, 67), Price (for Russell, 54), Horne (for Jones, 53), Kinghorn.