Match Report

Scotland survive scare to edge out Italy in Rome

Scotland overcame a fearless performance from Italy in Rome to claim their third win in this year’s NatWest 6 Nations on Super Saturday.

Scotland overcame a fearless performance from Italy in Rome to claim their third win in this year’s NatWest 6 Nations on Super Saturday.

A familiar face almost came back to haunt the visitors as Tommaso Allan, who played for Scotland Under-18s, scored 19 points to establish a 24-12 lead for the Azzurri.

But Scotland rallied to go in front with eight minutes left on the clock, before Greig Laidlaw’s penalty in the final minute cancelled out Allan’s own effort to secure a dramatic 29-27 victory.

The defeat means Italy’s barren run in the Championship now extends to 17 games, while they are still without a win at the Stadio Olimpico in more than five years.

Italy had started with a point to prove as they looked for their first win in this year’s Championship and showed their dominance in the scrum in the early stages.

Scottish errors allowed the hosts to gain territory and when Gordon Reid was penalised for offside, Allan nailed his first penalty to open the scoring.

The visitors responded with their first real spell of possession, before Tommy Seymour – on his return to the Scotland side – showed his class with a break down the left.

His run was eventually held up a metre from the line, but with blue shirts queuing up on the outside, it was just a matter of time before Fraser Brown strolled over for the first try.

The score did not faze Italy, though, and after setting up a line-out ten metres from the tryline, Allan left Huw Jones and WP Nel for dead before touching down beneath the posts.

His conversion was successful and it was not long before Italy extended their lead to 12 points.

Allan was once again key to the attack, as full-back Matteo Minozzi outsprinted Hamish Watson to pounce on the fly-half’s clever dinked kick.

With Scotland in danger of losing touch with the hosts, captain John Barclay pulled his side back into contention, diving over the whitewash from the back of a driving maul.

Laidlaw made up for missing his first conversion to reduce the deficit to five points, but Italy continued to dominate possession, with 24-year-old Allan pulling the strings.

When Scotland did have control of the ball they struggled to make much headway, with the hosts’ excellent work at the breakdown stifling their attack.

Gregor Townsend’s side then survived two further scares either side of half-time as Italy were first held up on the line by a mass of bodies, before Sebastian Negri’s try after the break was ruled out by the TMO for a knock on in the build-up.

But a third Italian try did come soon after when Gloucester Rugby’s Jake Polledri handed off Ryan Wilson and offloaded to Allan, who scored his second of the afternoon.

Another successful Allan conversion restored Italy’s 12-point lead and it could have been even better had they not knocked on when Sergio Parisse looked set to score with their next attack.

With Scotland staring defeat in the face, Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg came to the rescue with two tries in ten minutes, both converted by Greig Laidlaw to give the visitors the lead.

The hosts briefly got their noses back in front again with a penalty from Allan, but Laidlaw broke Italian hearts with a penalty of his own with a minute left on the clock.