Franco Smith rued the ill-discipline which cost Italy dear against Scotland but believes his young side can learn plenty from the experience they have gained during their Guinness Six Nations campaign.
The Azzurri took an early lead at BT Murrayfield through Luca Bigi but went on to have three players yellow carded against a ruthless home outfit who made the most of their regular numerical advantages, running in eight tries to win 52-10.
Smith had mixed emotions regarding the defensive efforts of his side, who at times stubbornly resisted Scotland’s waves of attacks but also missed 49 tackles over the 80 minutes.
“The ill-discipline and the yellow cards (frustrated me the most),” he said.
“We proved we can defend long periods really well but we also missed a lot of tackles. That inconsistency is really frustrating from a coaching perspective.
“We made about 250 (268) tackles, which is a huge number for a young team. But we missed a lot and there was ill-discipline – those were the two inconsistencies in defence. The yellow cards were unacceptable.”
Highlights: Scotland v Italy
While results have not gone their way, Italy have provided a raft of promising young players with opportunities to impress in this year’s Guinness Six Nations and Smith hopes they will benefit in the long run.
Half-back pairing Stephen Varney and Paolo Garbisi, 19 and 20 respectively, 20-year-old centre Federico Mori and No.8 Michele Lamaro, 22, are among those who have gained Championship experience and Smith intends to keep going on the same path.
“Why would we change?” he said. “These guys have gained all this experience and they are five games better off.
“Now when they go back to their clubs, they know what is expected at this level. You cannot explain in a changing room what it takes to play at this level.
“It’s unfortunate that we had to blood 30 new guys, not just one or two like other teams do. We have an average age of 24 and we need to up that gap to get these guys that exposure. That’s the way we’re going to go forward.
Superb Scotland run in eight tries to beat Italy in Edinburgh
“The sides we’ve played are well drilled, they are playing for positions in the Lions group that will be chosen soon and they have other objectives. After two defeats at home, Scotland were really prepared to find their feet again today.
“It’s a heavy defeat for us and we made errors you can’t make at this level. There are a lot of lessons we take forward but this wasn’t an experiment. This is a specific plan to uplift Italy’s rugby in general.”