Six Nations

Late drop goal stuns Italians

2014-02-22 21:37
Duncan Weir (Getty Images)

Rome - A superb Duncan Weir drop goal in the final minute of play gave Scotland a stunning 21-20 victory over Italy at Rome's Olympic Stadium in an enthralling Six Nations clash on Saturday.

Scotland's first victory of this campaign will ease fears of the dreaded wooden spoon, which is now a distinct prospect for Italy who remain pointless after three matches.

Scotland trailed 13-3 at half-time after an insipid half by both sides was lit up only by the incisive Tommaso Allan.

However the visitors emerged a different side after the interval and came fighting back to lead the Italians 18-13 with just over 10 minutes to play.

Joshua Furno pulled Italy level only minutes later with Luciano Orquera converting to give Italy a 20-18 lead and set up a thrilling finish.

After the final scrum of the match Scotland got the ball to Weir who took his chance from 30 metres to stun a packed-out stadium and send the travelling Tartan Army support into raptures.

Scotland coach Scott Johnson admitted, after weeks of seeing his players misfire during heavy defeats to Ireland and England, he had little faith the ball would go over.

"I had plenty of doubts he would do it. I've watched him for the last three weeks and he never looked like kicking one," quipped Johnson, who was lambasted by the media following a 20-0 rout by England at Murrayfield a fortnight ago.

"But I was delighted for him, delighted. It's a position that carries a lot of responsibility."

Although hardly celebrating, the under-fire Australian - who will step up to be director of rugby when Vern Cotter arrives at the end of the season - gave a hint that his side had finally given him slim reason to hope ahead of their next clash against France.

"The criticism last week was deserved, we didn't play well," he said.

"But we showed character. We said if we got set piece, we could play a bit of rugby. In the first half we had a lot of penalties against us but we always felt that if we could hold pressure, we could score points."

Allan, a former Scotland Under-20 star, had a superb first half with two penalties, a try and the conversion while Greig Laidlaw's penalty put some points on the board for the visitors.

While praising Allan's impressive debut against his former country, Italy coach Jacques Brunel lamented a performance littered with errors and lacking "quality".

"The quality of our game was poor," said the Frenchman, who this time last year led Italy to an impressive win over France and an eventual fourth place finish in the tournament.

"We gave the Scottish the possibility to win this match thanks to our own mistakes and lack of precision. Apart from our defence, we performed below par in most other departments."

Laidlaw got Scotland's fightback underway minutes into the second half when he hit an easy penalty from 30 metres and Scotland shocked the Azzurri by taking a five-point lead with 13 minutes on the clock thanks to a brace of tries from centre Alex Dunbar.

Backrow forward David Denton came on to replace Chris Fusaro and moments later the ball was spread wide, with Stuart Hogg releasing Dunbar for the centre to sprint and finish off by touching down in the corner.

Although Laidlaw missed the conversion from a tight angle, the 13-11 scoreline looked far more respectable for Johnson's men.

Play remained scrappy but Scotland still had plenty to offer and they were rewarded on 66 minutes when Dunbar finished off a superb collective move to bundle over next to the posts.

Weir had an easy job hitting the conversion to give the Scots a shock 18-13 lead but their joy lasted only briefly.

A promising Italian offensive gave Orquera possession and when his pass found Parisse inside the 22 the big No 8 offloaded to Furno to touch down and level nine minutes from the whistle, with Orquera's conversion giving the hosts a two-point lead.

However it was shocked into silence in the final minute when a drive from Scotland near Italy's 22 put Weir, fatally for the hosts, into drop kick territory.

Read more on:    italy  |  scotland  |  six nations  |  rugby
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Fixtures
Saturday, 03 February 2018
Wales v Scotland, Principality Stadium 16:15
France v Ireland, Stade de France 18:45
Sunday, 04 February 2018
Italy v England, Stadio Olimpico 17:00
Saturday, 10 February 2018
Ireland v Italy, Aviva Stadium 16:15
England v Wales, Twickenham 18:45
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