By Alan Dymock at Stadio Olimpico
The match in 30 seconds
Duncan Weir’s inch perfect drop-kick was enough to see defeat Italy 21-20 right at the death of a pulsating Six Nations fixture in Rome.
The game ended with two tries for each team, with Alex Dunbar grabbing two for Scotland and Tommaso Allan and Josh Furno sweeping to powerful team tries for the hosts. However, it was the ballsy finish from Weir will have relieved many, as early in the second half captain Greig Laidlaw spurned an easy penalty kick to tap and go – to no avail.
The second half, in particular was a breath-taking display, highlighting the merits of having both these teams in the Six Nations.
Italy – Tries: Allan, Furno. Con: Allan, Orquera. Pens: Allan 2.
Scotland –Tries: Dunbar 2 Con: Weir. Pens: Laidlaw 2. DG: Weir.
– After the match Jacques Brunel bemoaned Italy’s inability to convert their good performances from the last few matches and he felt Italy played well – they just didn’t get there.
– Scotland’s centres beat defenders nine times between them – including Dunbar’s two tries – while Stuart Hogg beat three defenders. For Italy, Allan, Furno and skipper Sergio Parisse all made clean breaks.
– Scotland won all of their own lineouts – a stark contrast to the last few games – and stole two of Italy’s. However, the hosts will wonder how they lost with a tackle success rate of 90%, a scrum success rate of 90% on their own ball and a lot of pressure at the breakdown.
– Scotland conceded ten penalties in the first half compared to Italy’s two. Three of those were against Moray Low in the scrum. He was replaced by Geoff Cross on the 38 minute.
– Referee Steve Walsh gave 16 penalties in total, but did not brandish a yellow card once. He did go to the TMO a few times to check for tries.
– Duncan Weir on his drop goal: “It’s all a big blur to be honest. We had a few chances to go for it. I was in the pocket and Cus (Chris Cusiter) gave me a lovely ball and the rest is history.”
– Asked if he wanted to comment on the pressure on him, Scott Johnson said: “Not really.” But he did say that the last few weeks’ criticism was deserved and that this week, the team handled pressure better in the second half, which led to the points and that Scotland were the better team. “I was delighted for Duncan (Weir)” he added.
– Scotland have the monkey off the back after winning and have a week off, however, with France coming to Murrayfield many fans will be hoping that the Scots carry on their calm, sedate, joke-free preparation from this week into the next game.
– Italy have taken up the ‘brave losers’ tag. Their forwards deserved better and Tommaso Allan guided the game well, but they have now lost to Scotland in their last three meetings, in three different countries.
RW’s proposed Italy XV v Ireland: Luke McLean, Angelo Esposito, Michael Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Leonardo Sarto, Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori, Alberto de Marchi, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Joshua Furno, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse
Why shake things up? They aren’t going to get magically better if there are a few changes. There are a some hard-working, powerful men in that pack and if guys like Michael Campagnaro or Leonardo Sarto are to profit from this they need time together. Tommaso Allan is their long-term leader, too. He has grown a lot since playing for Scotland U20.
RW’s proposed Scotland XV v France: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour, Alex Dunbar, Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Duncan Weir, Chris Cusiter; Ryan Grant, Scott Lawson, Geoff Cross, Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton, Johnnie Beattie, Chris Fusaro, David Denton
A win’s a win and all that, but Scotland still persisted in making poor substitutions at the wrong time. If you want back-row balance, keep Beattie, bring in Denton and have a scavenger (if you don’t want Kelly Brown, as they don’t seem to, keep Fusaro). And if you have the mantra of picking on for, keep Scott Lawson and drop Moray Low for the less mobile but tighter Geoff Cross. Because France come to scrum.