Italy captain Manuela Furlan grabbed a hat-trick as the Azzurre saw off Scotland 41-20 at Scotstoun to secure second place in the Women’s Six Nations Pool A.
The visitors ran in seven tries in all to get the better of the Scots, and they will play host to Ireland on Super Saturday in the third-place play-off.
Italy made a dream start with two tries in the first nine minutes to race into a 12-0 lead thanks to scores from Beatrice Rigoni and Furlan. Their experienced backline was clicking and finding holes in the Scottish defence at every opportunity.
However, after some early struggles in the set-piece, Scotland righted the ship and Lana Skeldon went over from a powerful rolling maul.
A further Helen Nelson penalty cut the deficit to two points right before the break, but on the stroke of half-time, Ilaria Arrighetti’s score allowed the visitors to stretch clear again, 19-10.
Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi’s try early in the second half secured the bonus point for Italy with Furlan getting her second just before the hour-mark.
Rigoni completed her double and despite Emma Wassell’s late score, it was Furlan who had the final word to seal her hat-trick.
AZZURRE OFF TO A FLYER
Italy had shown their threat from first phase against England, and they made it count after just seven minutes at Scotstoun. Off the back of a scrum just inside the Scottish 22, Elisa Giordano fed Sara Barattin who popped the ball to Furlan, coming off her wing. That opened up the space for Rigoni and the centre collected the ball from her skipper, bumped a defender and powered over. Michela Sillari converted to make it 7-0.
Two minutes later they were in again. This time it came from a Scotland lineout that went loose, with Italy immediately transferring the ball out wide to the left. Ostuni Minuzzi made ground before finding Sillari who shifted the ball on to Furlan. She then put on the afterburners and raced home for the second try. Sillari’s conversion attempt from out wide fell just short.
Scotland’s lineout had faltered up to that point, but they got it right when they needed it on 22 minutes with an unstoppable rolling maul allowing Skeldon to dot down, with Nelson slotting the difficult conversion.
Italy came very close to a third try when Rigoni looked to be in again, but she lost control of the ball just as she went over the line when trying to crash over from close range.
Rigoni was involved in everything, and it was an illegal clearout that allowed Nelson to slot a penalty just before half-time to make it 12-10.
But with the clock nearly in the red, Scotland failed to collect the restart, and a few phases later Sillari’s delayed pass opened up a huge gap for Arrighetti, who obliged by sprinting clear and under the posts. Sillari slotted the extras and Italy were back in control at the interval.
CAPTAIN FANTASTIC GETS A TREBLE
They continued where they had left off at the start of the second half, with Rigoni breaking and finding Barattin inside her. The scrum-half raced into the 22, and two phases later, teenager Ostuni Minuzzi spotted a gap around the fringes and picked and raced over.
Scotland came back and earned a penalty under the posts, with Nelson happy to oblige to make it 24-13 to the visitors.
Italy’s backs were proving deadly though, and after a long period of pressure from the forwards, Furlan showed her quick feet to get over in the left corner.
Scotland kept plugging away, including one relentless passage as they went through phase after phase only to be met by Italian defence.
And the visitors showed their ruthless side when a Giordano break led to Rigoni going over for her second.
Scotland’s first try had come from a rolling maul, and while Italy denied them a second directly from the same tactic, Wassell forced her way over from close range and Nelson converted.
Italy mounted one final attack, and after a huge scrum, the numbers out wide paid with skipper Furlan the beneficiary to complete her hat-trick.
The win sealed Italy’s place in second in Pool A, to set up their clash with Ireland, while Scotland will take on Wales in the battle for fifth.
The other game on Super Saturday will decide the destination of the Women’s Six Nations title when England play host to France.