Scots sneak past Italy

2015-08-22 22:50
Matt Scott (AP)

Turin - A late Henry Pyrgos try handed Scotland a 16-12 victory over Italy in a World Cup warm-up that will keep both sides guessing as they continue to build towards this autumn's showpiece in England.

Scotland travelled to Turin hoping to build on the performance that left them on the wrong side of a 28-22 defeat to Ireland in Dublin last week.

But having made 11 changes to that side, coach Vern Cotter had already set this game out as one in which to continue experimenting.

Italy snatched victory at Murrayfield in their last meeting, although Jacques Brunel's side finished the Six Nations with more questions than answers about their World Cup potential.

With captain Sergio Parisse out with illness, Fiji-born Samuela Vunisa stepped into the No 8 position with Quintin Geldenhuys taking the captain's armband.

Fellow veterans Leonardo Ghiraldini, Michele Rizzo and Martin Castrogiovanni did not appear until the 50th minute.

It was a scrappy, nervous affair played in perfect summer conditions and before former Scotland under-20 star Tommaso Allan kicked a penalty on the stroke of half-time to level the game 9-9, the hosts briefly showed some attacking promise.

Scotland had raced to a 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of early penalties from David Weir, while Italy centre Gonzalo Garcia missed an effort from 40m out.

Garcia was on target minutes later from the halfway line following an infringement at the maul, although Vunisa's failure to roll away at the ruck handed the visitors another penalty, with Weir duly obliging from 40m out.

Italy may be known for their strong scrum and solid defence, but in the absence of Parisse the Azzurri had Scotland pushed to the limits in defence prior to the interval, before Allan kicked over to level moments later.

Wing Rory Hughes came within inches of ending the Scots' quest for a try when he powered downfield to get a snatch at a clearing kick, only to see the ball slip from his grasp.

Italy changed their entire front row 10 minutes after the restart with Ghiraldini, Rizzo and Castrogiovanni replacing Matias Aguero, Davide Giazzon and Lorenzo Cittadini, and for a moment it looked to have paid dividends.

After a spell of Italian pressure at the tryline Castrogiovanni rolled over with ball in hand, but he was ruled to have been held up.

Scotland could have gone ahead on the hour after being awarded a penalty when Vunisa entered another ruck from the side, but Weir's effort from the right touchline was just wide.

Instead, it was the hosts who pulled three points in front minutes later when Allan kicked over a penalty from 40m out after a Scottish infringement at a ruck.

Both sides made a series of changes and Scotland came close to the opening try when Peter Horne set off on a mazy run, only to be hauled down inside Italy's 22m line by Luke McLean.

Minutes later, the visitors found the opening, much to general surprise.

A series of handling errors saw the Scots pushed back over the halfway line but once in possession, full back Greg Tonks kept his composure to attack down the right flank.

Italy's defence had been split wide open and Tonks drew the last man before offloading to Pyrgos, with Weir stepping up for the easy conversion.

Read more on:    italy  |  scotland  |  rwc 2015  |  rugby

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