Italy prevail in wooden spoon clash in Rome
Italy 13 Scotland 6:Scotland produced arguably their most inept performance of the Six Nations Championship to go down to a fifth successive defeat in the tournament at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. The scoreboard flattered the visitors as Italy were appreciably the better team, albeit in a particularly poor match, choc-full of errors.It was turgid stuff but it won’t matter too much to the Italians who secured their first win of the championship the defining moment and a rare moment of cohesion a try from Giovanbattista Venditti just after the interval.
Scottish coach Andy Robinson, who signed a contract extension until 2015, came under pressure in certain sections of the media after a poor performance in defeat to Ireland and the Scots latest display will ramp up the disappointment and frustration.
The game was played in idyllic, sunny conditions but the general quality was shockingly poor, a morass of mistakes, limited ambition, and an over-reliance on the boot as the primary weapon in attack.
Italy came flying out of the blocks and won a ninth-minute penalty after Scotland’s Jim Hamilton was called for off-side at a ruck. Mirco Bergamasco landed the place-kick to hand the hosts a 3-0 lead.
In the 18th minute, Scotland wasted a good chance as they earned a penalty at the scrum, but then gave away their throw at an attacking line-out.
In the 21st minute, David Denton held onto the ball to concede a penalty and referee Alain Rolland marched Scotland 10 metres back for protesting. Bergamasco missed the chance to extend Italy’s lead as his attempt went wide.
Kristopher Burton then had a drop-goal attempt blocked by John Barclay as the home side continued to attack. In the 36th minute, Greig Laidlaw equalised with a long range effort from the half-way line after Italy gave away a penalty.
Scotland’s De Luca was then sent to the sin-bin for kicking the ball out of Italy’s scrum-half Eduardo Gori’s hands. Bergamasco could not convert the opportunity and the teams went in at the interval, tied 3-3.
Italy, who had been dominating for large tranches of the game, got the score they deserved three minutes after the restart when Giovanbattista Venditti, took a great line to step inside Scottish fullback Stuart Hogg and cross for a try. Kristopher Burton added the conversion to put the home side 10-3 ahead.
Scotland had lost Jim Hamilton to the sin bin for coming in from the side but Italy continued to fritter away possession with a plethora of handling errors. The visitors weren’t much better as they too made a huge amount of mistakes and turned over far too much lineout ball. The fare was for the most part shockingly poor.
Alessandro Zanni was next to receive a yellow card, for an offence at a ruck having minutes earlier conceded a penalty at a lineout from which Scottish outhalf Laidlaw closed the gap to 10-6 by landing the opportunity with the placed ball.
Scotland continued to huff and puff but their lack of precision meant that time and again they coughed up possession. With three minutes remaining, the home side managed to get a foothold in the Scottish 22 and the Italians Australian born outhalf dropped a goal to push his side out to 13-6.
The game finished with Scotland conceding yet another penalty, which pretty much summed up a dreadful afternoon for the visitors: a wooden spoon for Andy Robinson’s side, exactly what they deserved on the basis of their performance.
Italy:Masi, Venditti, Benvenuti, Canale, Bergamasco, Burton, Gori, Lo Cicero, Ongaro, Castrogiovanni, Geldenhuys, Bortolami, Zanni, Barbieri, Parisse. Replacements: D’Apice, Cittadini, Furno, Favaro, Vosawai, Botes, Toniolatti.
Scotland:Hogg, Evans, De Luca, Morrison, Lamont, Laidlaw, Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Gray, Hamilton, Barclay, Rennie, Denton. Replacements: Lawson, Murray, Kellock, Vernon, Cusiter, Jackson, Cuthbert.
Referee:Alain Rolland (Ireland)