Italy down Scotland

2012-03-17 16:39

Rome - Italy beat Scotland 13-6 in the Six Nations at the Stadio Olimpico here on Saturday to earn Frenchman Jacques Brunel his first victory as Azzurri coach.

It meant Scotland finished bottom of the Six Nations for the first time since 2007 and suffered their first whitewash since 2004.

Italy avoided the wooden spoon for the first time since 2007 and heaped pressure on Scotland boss Andy Robinson, whose side have now lost seven matches in a row.

Giovanbattista Venditti scored the only try of the game, his second in four appearances for the Azzurri.

Scotland had both Nick De Luca and Jim Hamilton sin-binned while Alessandro Zanni also picked up a yellow card for the hosts.

A month ago the Stadio Olimpico was covered in snow but this game kicked off in brilliant spring sunshine with fans in t-shirts topping up their tans.

And it was a good thing too because events on the field did little to excite the crowd.

Scottish lock Hamilton was penalised for diving over the top on 10 minutes and Mirco Bergamasco kicked Italy into a 3-0 lead.

The hosts dominated in terms of both possession and territory but lacked the cutting edge to turn their pressure into genuine chances or points.

David Denton was penalised for holding on and some Scottish back-chat earned an extra 10 yards on the penalty but Bergamasco hooked his kick from wide left.

Zanni started an attack that saw Italy burrow down the left but having reached five yards out, fly-half Kris Burton suddenly decided to try a hurried and impromptu drop-goal that was easily charged down and almost resulted in a Scottish counter.

Italy were then hit with a rare penalty for collapsing the scrum and Greig Laidlaw slotted over the penalty from just inside the hosts' half.

But De Luca picked up a yellow card for coming in from the side and knocking the ball out of scrum-half Edoardo Gori's hands as Italy attacked down the left again.

Bergamasco skewed this kick off target as well but it meant Italy would start the second half with a man advantage.

And they showed until now unseen clinical ability to go through the phases from one side to the other before Burton fed Venditti, who hit an angled running line, to break through the Scottish resistence and score under the posts.

Laidlaw missed an immediate chance to reply with a penalty kick from wide right.

Italy continued to dominate with a rare foray into the hosts' half, but Hamilton then picked up a yellow card for collapsing a maul.

The hosts couldn't make this numerical advantage count, though, as they went through a scrappy phase with Laidlaw slotting over a penalty after Zanni was penalised in the line-out and sin-binned just as Hamilton came back on.

Italy survived in no small part to thanks to Scotland's usually reliable line-out breaking down.

When Zanni was back on, the hosts moved up the pitch and this time Burton nailed the drop goal from right in front of the posts.

Scotland gave it one last throw of the dice but Sean Lamont was penalised for holding on and Italy saw out the victory.