Scotland Break Italian Hearts With Last-Gasp Six Nations Victory

Scotland Break Italian Hearts With Last-Gasp Six Nations Victory
14:37, 17 Mar 2018

Scotland claimed a dramatic last-gasp victory over Italy which ensured they avoided an embarrassing end to their Six Nations campaign in Rome.

The Azzurri had already been condemned to the wooden spoon, but they turned on the style to the delight of a huge crowd at the Olympic Stadium.

Italy head coach Conor O'Shea had spoken in the build-up how his side were growing as a team and been more competitive during this year's Six Nations.

Their performance against Scotland certainly showed that as they attacked with aggression and purpose from the outset.

Greig Laidlaw’s late matchwinning penalty, though, left Italy without a Six Nations win in three years and without a Test match victory in Rome in five years.

Scotland, for their part, knew that victory would give them a chance of finishing third and coach Gregor Townsend made five changes for their final Six Nations outing this year.

Centre Nick Grigg made his first start in the tournament, while winger Tommy Seymour returned from a back problem.

Hooker Fraser Brown was joined in the front row by WP Nel and lock Tim Swinson also came in.

Peter Horne, Blair Kinghorn and Stuart McInally dropped to the bench, with Simon Berghan and Grant Gilchrist out of the squad after last weekend's loss in Dublin.

Yet Italy produced their best 40 minutes of this year's championship to establish a 17-12 interval lead.

It was no more than they deserved, such was the industry and spirit they displayed.

Nevertheless, after Tommaso Allan kicked the hosts ahead with a penalty, it was Scotland who claimed the first try of the match.

It came in the 10th minute when the visitors fashioned a neat handling sequence which culminated in Fraser Brown cantering over the line.

Four minutes later, Italy scored their first try when Tommy Allan waltzed through the Scottish rearguard with some delightful footwork and the fly-half converted his own touchdown.

That made it 10-5 to Italy and then, in the 21st minute, they claimed another deserved score when full-back Matteo Minozzi outpaced Hamish Watson to scoop up Allan's cleverly-crafted kick.

It was stirring stuff from the hosts and another superb kick from Allan handed Italy a 12-point lead.

Scotland hit back in the 25th minute when captain John Barclay powered through the back of a maul to dive over the line and Laidlaw’s conversion reduced the deficit to five points.

Shortly after the interval, Sebastian Negri had a try chalked off but moments later Allan grabbed his second when he collected a pass from Jake Polledri and raced clear.

Allan converted to make it 24-12 to Italy, but in the 62nd minute an exquisite pass from Laidlaw sent Sean Maitland over the line and Laidlaw converted.

With eight minutes remaining, Stuart Hogg went over in the right corner and Laidlaw's conversion made it 26-24 to Scotland.

But the drama was not over Allan's 76th-minute penalty put them 27-26 ahead before Scotland won it with a 79th-minute penalty from Laidlaw. 

Italy have now lost their 17 Six Nations games while Scotland’s success saw them win three games in a single Six Nations for only the third time.

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