Scotland suffered another crushing blow yesterday when they handed Italy, perennial whipping boys, their first victory in the tournament for two years.
Scotland facing wooden spoon
Left crestfallen following the last-gasp defeat against Wales a fortnight ago, Scotland suffered another crushing blow yesterday when they handed Italy, perennial whipping boys, their first victory in the tournament for two years. The defeat was a major fillip for Italy, who ended a seven-match losing streak, but Andy Robinson now faces the prospect of a grim battle to avoid picking up the wooden spoon in his first term in charge of Scotland.
"It's not as hard to take as the one before, which was right at the end but we had chances and didn't take them - they had one and took it," said Dan Parks who kicked all of Scotland's points. "We expected to do well on the back of the performance last time, it was good in parts but we're very disappointed. "We had a few scrums on the line and a line-out on the line - teams are scoring at those opportunities, but we didn't."
Italy were clinical with their first genuine scoring chance, Gonzalo Canale exploiting a massive hole in the Scotland defence on 66 minutes, racing clear before sending Pablo Canavosio under the posts. Mirco Bergamasco kicked the conversion to add to his earlier three penalties. "That was a massive win for us," said Marco Bortolami, the Italy lock. "We fight every week against better teams but we deserved to win. We were very close to England but they didn't make any mistakes - here, we beat a good team. Our defence was good today, this is a major win for Italy. Every Italian gave 100 per cent today, that's why it's a great win."
The the visitors came to closest to scoring a try when Allan Jacobsen, the prop, was driven over the line, but the TV match official could not see through the mass of bodies to be able to award a try. "We created some chances but they are very good at slowing the ball down," said Robinson who was far from happy at the leniency shown by the referee when Josh Sole intercepted a promising move from an offside position.
"We had opportunities to score tries but they gave penalties away and that's the mentality they have here. We dropped off one tackle and they scored a try. I'm really pleased with the way the team are trying to play. We are moving forward and playing better rugby." Nick Mallett, the Italy coach, was thrilled to defeat a side who ran Wales so close in the last round of matches. "Italy is a country that has been battling a long time to achieve decent results," said the South African. "There have often been false dawns but I'm so proud of these players. Scotland are a very good side. They played really good rugby against Wales and we have struggled against that type of rugby in the past. But our defence was very good today."