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RBS 6 NationsAll roads led to Rome, where Scotland changed their RBS 6 Nations fortunes with a hard fought win over Italy (36 / 20).

Two 1st half, and one 2nd half, try interspersed with a succession of Greig Laidlaw penalties gave Scotland their biggest RBS 6 Nations score since the championship expanded in 2000.

The Scotland captain was awarded man of match for his kicking off the tee and calm leadership that saw the away side maintain structure and clarity of thought despite 2 2nd half Yellow Cards – for Finn Russell and WP Nel – and sustained Italian attacks.

 

The team returned to the scene of their last championship victory in determined mood having been refreshed and re-focussed by the fallow week and, despite conceding the 1st points to a Haimona penalty, scored the 1st try as part of an immediate fight back.

From a series of phases in the Italian 22, quick ball for Laidlaw created space for wing Tim Visser to come into the line, draw defenders and pass on to Stuart Hogg who drew 2 more Italians before popping the ball up off the deck in the tackle to an in-coming John Barclay, who surged over in the corner.

Laidlaw converted (3 / 7).

From the restart Scotland scored again, following a turnover from John Hardie in the Italian half.

Quick recycled ball gave Russell the opportunity to take a gap between Italian forwards and race into the 22.

Prop Alastair Dickinson carried the ball upfield; quick ball and a mis-pass in the line then set up a loose forward combination as Ryan Wilson fed Hardie to fend off the cover defence and dive over the line (3 / 14).

Another Laidlaw penalty took the score on 25 minutes to 3 / 17.

A break down the blind side by the Italian backline then produced their 1st try.

Garcia off-loaded in contact and Odiete slipped the ball to hooker Ghiraldini 5m out who touched down for an impressive score. Haimona converted for 17 / 10 on 30 minutes.

The Scottish scrum was dominant throughout but Italian captain Sergio Parisse was getting hands on the ball and working hard to raise his team.

Italian pressure grew as the 1st half closed. Breaks in play were disrupting the Scots rhythm and allowing Italy to re-group.

Laidlaw had a chance to extend the lead but typically metronomic boot was just off the mark from distance and out wide.

Halftime: Italy 10 / 17 Scotland

Italy started the 2nd half strongly and, at the hour mark, it was penalties that kept the scoreline moving, with Italy converting pressure in the Scotland 22 into 3 points, but Scotland applying pressure at the breakdown to keep their advantage.

By the hour mark it was 13 / 26 with Scotland still not able to pull clear of their hosts and Italy threatening with their ball retention and their proven ability to get over the gainline.

The final quarter loomed and would prove the final test for a Scotland team looking to get back to winning ways and close out match they had controlled for large periods.

But there was more drama to come as Russell was Yellow-carded for hands in the ruck and Italy scored when lock Fuser dove over at close range following a TMO review shortly (20 / 26).

2 Minutes later Laidlaw was able to move the scoreboard on again with a penalty as the last 10 minutes (20 / 29).

A strong nerve was needed to see out the match, as further incidents were to follow.

Scotland withstood several Italian scrums in their own 22 before winning a vital penalty on 71 minutes, which Hogg cleared to halfway.

From the resulting lineout Scotland won another penalty and Russell kicked down to the Italian 22; Scotland were then penalised and Italy cleared their lines to halfway.

From the resulting lineout WP Nel attempted an intercept and was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on on 75 minutes and Italy kicked to Scotland’s 22.

Parisse launched another drive but the ball was dropped giving Russell the chance to fly-hack downfield to safety.

A subsequent steal by Duncan Taylor at the tackle gave Scotland possession deep in the Italian half.

A series of phases Hogg drew the winger and flipped a sublime off-load out the back door to Tommy Seymour, who had a free run over the line.

Laidlaw converted for the 20 / 36 final score.

 

Scotland Highlights:

 

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