Italy’s show on the road at last

It has taken 33 matches and some heart-breaking close failures, but Italy finally have claimed an away win in the Six Nations, beating Scotland 17-37 in Edinburgh on Saturday.

Had they not won though, it would have been a calamity, as Scotland presented their visitors with a 21-point head start within the first seven minutes!

But after nearly forty minutes of rock-like defence as the Azzurri fought off the Scottish comeback, the Italians dominated the final ten minutes to make the game safe.

Rome, the Eternal City, is history. There is history at every turn. The whole of Italy is one great miracle of history. But today Italy made history in Scotland. Hadrian built a wall to keep the Picts out, for the Romans had no stomach to invade Caledonia stern and wild. Today Marco Bortolami went where Hadrian did not go. He went to the heart of Scotland and made history. For the first time Italy won a Six nations match abroad and won it well. Afterwards exhausted and exhilarated Alessandro Troncon, heaving for breath, announced that this was “the start of anew era for Italian rugby”.

What a day, what a victory – and what a muzzle for those who have been preaching Italy out of the Six Nations.

If New Zealand had been playing Brazil – at rugby that is – and after six minutes the full might of the All Blacks had scored three tries and led 21-0, you would not be surprised and the All Blacks would feel pleased with themselves. But this was not All Blacks against Sambas. This was Italy against Scotland at Murrayfield, and after six minutes Italy led 21-0. It must be a unique situation in the annals of the International Championship however many nations were playing.

Three tries in six minutes!

Murrayfield was stunned.

For the first two the loudest sound in Murrayfield was produced by Italian voices. For the third the Italian voices were drowned by the ugly sound of Scots booing Scots on a wintry afternoon.

The first try came after 18 seconds. Italy kicked off, the Scots secured the ball and for some reason Phil Godman of the highlighted hair opted to chip. Flying Mauro Bergamasco charged the chip down, gathered the ball just short of the goal-line and plunged over for the try.

Mistake 1, try 1.

The Scots spread the ball wide across the field, expansive but going nowhere till Chris Cusiter passed to his left towards Rob Dewey but into the arms of Andrea Scanavacca who raced 40 metres to score under the posts, for Hugo Southwell was on the attack.

Mistake 2, try 2

And just four minutes had passed as Italian voices echoed around Murrayfield.

That was it, one thought, let’s settle down to reality.

Again Scotland went through their side-to-side, going-nowhere routine till Cusiter fired a long looping pass towards Southwell on the left wing, but Kaine Robertson leapt up and the Italianate New Zealander raced off over the acres to score at the posts. 21-0 after six minutes.

21-0 after six minutes. There has never been anything like it in the International Championship, and the Scots booed Scots.

For the rest of the match the Scots had the majority of possession and for most of the rest they had the majority of territory. Time and again they eschewed penalty kicks at goal in favour of attacking line-outs but the Italians tackled like heroes, every man an Horatio, keeping the Gaelic attackers back from their line.

Oh, Scotland got a try, a funny one. First they knocked on, yet again, but Sergio Parisse did something silly off the ball and they had a chance to make another line-out. They attacked and then Dewey squeezed through a gap with lots of referee assistance. He almost stopped running as he expected to be called back. He was not called back and fell to the ground as Troncon attacked. Falling to the ground gave him the weird try that made the score 21-7.

Penalties kept Scotland on the attack. Th

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