Wooden spoon looming for Scotland after Italy victory

Irish referee George Clancy criticised for handling of ‘heavily regulated’ scrums

Scotland prop Alasdair Dickinson has criticised George Clancy following the Irish referee's performance in Murrayfield.

Scotland slumped to their third defeat of this year's Six Nations going down 22-19 to Italy, leaving them staring at the ignominy of a fourth wooden spoon in 11 years.

Dickinson admitted the Scots “should have stopped” the driving mauls Italy used to devastating effect as they stormed back to win with a last-gasp penalty try, the Edinburgh forward insisted Clancy did nothing to help them at the scrum.

The setpiece duel was held up time and again in the first half as the official lectured both sides on their engage method before finally scolding the frontrowers for showing a “terrible attitude”. Dickinson said he had no idea what the referee’s issue was.

Frustrating

“I think he was making a mountain out of a molehill at times. I better stay politically correct with the media or I’ll get in trouble – but when he let us scrum, we scrummed really well and got penalties. It was just frustrating that it seemed to take an age to set up.

“The scrum is so heavily regulated, but it seems like frontrows don’t know anything about scrummaging any more and refs do.I don’t know many prop refs to be honest.

Saturday’s defeat was undoubtedly a step back after some significant strides forward under new head coach Vern Cotter.

But the reality is that Scotland have now lost all three of their matches so far this year.

Scotland looked to be very much in control of their own destiny when they raced 10-0 ahead after just seven minutes. Mark Bennett followed skipper Laidlaw’s early penalty with the easiest try of his life as he intercepted Kelly Haimona’s pass inside before darting home to score under the post.

But the Italians were handed a lifeline as Joshua Furno barged over from a lineout. Laidlaw and Haimona exchanged penalties before another kick from the Scotland captain put them ahead by eight.

Italy’s farcical second try – scored when the ball dropped into Giovanbattista Venditti’s grasp two yards out after Haimona’s penalty had hit a post – allowed them to close in on their hosts.