Scotland scrape past Italy in Six Nations

Scotland have almost certainly avoided the Six Nations wooden spoon when they beat Italy 20-21 at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Scotland needed a late Duncan Weir drop goal to snatch the victory from under Italy’s grasp.

The Scottish victory will ease fears of the dreaded wooden spoon while the
reverse can be said for Italy, who have no points after three matches.

Scotland, claiming their first win of the campaign after heavy defeats to Ireland
and England, trailed 13-3 at half-time after an insipid half by both sides lit
up only by the incisive Tommaso Allan.

However the visitors emerged a different side after the interval and came fighting
back to lead the Italians 18-13 with just over 10 minutes to play.

Joshua Furno pulled Italy level only minutes later with Luciano Orquera converting
to give Italy a 20-18 lead and set up a thrilling finish.

After the final scrum of the match Scotland got the ball to Weir who took his
chance from 30 metres to stun a packed-out stadium and send the travelling Tartan
Army support into raptures.

Despite a bright start that suggested Scotland would make up for the humiliating
20-0 loss to England a fortnight ago at Murrayfield, Allan, a former Scotland
under-20 star, had a superb first half with two penalties, a try and the conversion.

An Allan penalty from 30 metres out gave the hosts a 3-0 lead on 14 minutes
but after a spell of Scotland pressure earned a penalty outside Italy’s 22 Greig
Laidlaw’s effort spun between the posts to allow Scotland to pull level.

Italy should have been back in front after winning a penalty when Scotland’s
pack crumbled under pressure at the scrum but from a similar position Allan’s
effort spun wide.

Scotland sniffed another try chance when Weir intercepted before the halfway
line but cut inside and lost his footing.

Minutes later Scotland paid the price for another infringement and this time
Allan hit was true from 30 metres out to give the Azzurri a 6-3 lead.

Scotland enjoyed a long spell of phase play around Italy’s 22 but the Azzurri
defence stood firm.

The hosts piled on the pressure at the other end and were rewarded after captain
Sergio Parisse collected from a ruck and charged towards the try line where
the ball found its way to Allan, who touched down close to the posts.

Allan made the easy conversion to give Italy a deserved half-time lead but
the Scots reduced the arrears five minutes after the break when Laidlaw hit
an easy penalty from 30 metres out following an off-side at a ruck.

Scotland, to their credit, then took the game to Italy and shocked the Azzurri
by taking a five-point lead with 13 minutes on the clock thanks to a brace of
tries from centre Alex Dunbar.

Backrow forward David Denton came on to replace Chris Fusaro and moments later
the ball was spread wide, with Stuart Hogg releasing Dunbar for the centre to
sprint and finish off by touching down in the corner.

Although Laidlaw missed the conversion from a tight angle, the 13-11 scoreline
looked far more respectable for Scott Johnson’s men.

Play remained scrappy but Scotland still had plenty to offer and they were
rewarded on 66 minutes when Dunbar finished off a superb collective move to
bundle over next to the posts.

Following a delay for review, referee Steve Walsh gave the try and Weir had
an easy job hitting the conversion to give the Scots a shock 18-13 lead.

Scotland’s joy lasted only briefly.

A promising Italian offensive gave Luciano Orquera possession and when his
pass found Parisse inside the 22 the big No 8 offloaded to Furno to touch down
and level nine minutes from the whistle.

The Olympic Stadium erupted when Orquera’s conversion from just outside the
22 gav

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