Scotland Sneaks Past Italy

Scotland has its first win in seven Tests thanks to a 16-12 win in Turin on Saturday against Italy.  Despite the Italians’ territorial dominance, it was Scottish running rugby that would earn the visitors the win as Henry Pyrgos scored what was to be the only try of the match.  The Scots took the lead in the third minute as Duncan Weir neatly slotted a penalty.

Coach Vern Cotter had made a raft of changes after his side was beaten in Ireland last week with Grant Gilchrist being the only forward to retain his place in the starting line-up.  For the Azzurri, Quinton Geldenhuys captained the team in the absence of Sergio Parisse.  In the 13th minute the hosts would earn a penalty after the men in dark blue failed to roll away from the tackle, but Gonzalo Garcia failed to capitalise.

Three minutes later after good work at the breakdown the home side was awarded another penalty.  Tommaso Allan took over the kicking duties from Garcia and got good distance on his kick as the assistant referees raised their flags.  The scrums were struggling to set and looked quite messy as the closing stages of the first half neared.

It was not exactly a flowing rugby at the Olympic Stadium and the referee’s whistle seemed to be the headline act.  In the final minute of the first half Jacques Brunel’s boys earned another penalty after a good spell of pressure and Allan made no mistake with the three points to make it 9-9 at the break.  Brunel’s boys kicked off the second period and in the 52nd minute it looked as if Italy had finally broken down the Highlanders’ defence as the Italians drove over celebrating thinking that they had scored but the TMO had a different view and ruled the effort to be short of the line.

The Azzurri would take the lead for the first time in the 62nd  minute as Allan once again secured the points.  Despite their territorial dominance, the hosts would be on the back foot for most of the second period as the Scots ran them ragged but without reward.  Luke McLean had to make a try-saving tackle in the 70th minute to stop Peter Horne from scoring and a few minutes later the home side had to make another telling tackle after the away side took a quick penalty.

Scotland would finally escape the home defence in the 73rd minute as Matt Scott’s neat pass on the inside found Pyrgos who sprinted to the try line for what would be the only try of the match.  Brunel and his men travel to Scotland next week for a return Test.

Italy:  

15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovambattista Venditti, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 1 Matias Aguero, 2 Davide Giazzon, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys (c), 5 Valerio Bernabo, 6 Francesco Minto, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 8 Samuela Vunisa

Replacements:  

16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Mauro Bergamasco, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Carlo Canna, 23 Luke McLean

Scotland:  

15 Greig Tonks, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne; 1 Gordon Reid, 2 Stuart McInally, 3 Mike Cusack, 4 Richie Gray, 5 Grant Gilchrist (c), 6 Alasdair Strokosch, 7 John Hardie, 8 Adam Ashe.

Replacements:  

16 Ross Ford, 17 Alasdair Dickinson, 18 Willem Nel, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Damien Hoyland

Photo credit: SNS/Scottish Rugby