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6N: Italy beats Scotland 22-19 with late penalty try

February 28, 2015

EDINBURGH, Scotland (AP) — Italy earned a last-minute penalty try to beat Scotland 22-19 at Murrayfield for its first Six Nations win in two years on Saturday.

Referee George Clancy awarded the try with less than 30 seconds left in regulation time after Scotland replacement flanker Hamish Watson was caught dragging down an Italy maul that was surging to the line.

Watson was also yellow-carded for the foul, joining replacement lock Ben Toolis, on debut, in the sin-bin. Toolis was also carded for dragging down a maul only a minute earlier, as Scotland’s composure folded under severe pressure from the Italians spanning the last eight minutes.

After Tommaso Allan added the routine conversion, Italy celebrated their deserved three-tries-to-one triumph. They hadn’t won a Six Nations match since 2013, and this was only their second away victory in the tournament: The other was eight years ago, also at Murrayfield.

“It’s been a long couple of years with Italy,” fullback Luke McLean said.

“Our forwards really set the platform. We scored a try off a really good maul at the start of the first half, and full credit to them, they really stood up for us.

“To win is tough enough, to win away is a good thing. Lucky enough, we have two games at home, so we’ll try and push on.”

The Scots looked like they might hold on for their first win of the championship. Captain Greig Laidlaw kicked his fourth penalty with 14 minutes to go. The first points of the second half extended the Scots’ lead to 19-15.

The Italians looked spent. Forced to forego penalty kicks and go for a winning try, they were suddenly inspired.

The pressure they exerted was immense. They tried another lineout maul which earned them their first try, and that gave them a penalty, so they kicked to the left corner, where they pinned Scotland.

When Italy’s front row collapsed on their put-in and Scotland received a penalty, the Scots’ relief was palpable, and the biggest ever crowd at Murrayfield for an Italy game - 62,188 - roared.

But Peter Horne’s kick to touch didn’t go out, Italy received another penalty, and Scotland was back on the rack again. Toolis exited, eight minutes after going on, and the cracks in Scotland’s discipline finally shattered.

“The result was disappointing because we led for the whole game,” Scotland coach Vern Cotter said. “Through that lack of composure and control we got ourselves in difficulty.

“I’m obviously not getting the message across (about discipline). It needs to be taken on board. We just need to address a couple of simple things which will help us change, and control outcomes better.”

His team started well, rushing to 10-0 within eight minutes. Center Mark Bennett intercepted Italy flyhalf Kelly Haimona’s floated pass for a soft try which Laidlaw converted to add to an early penalty.

Italy responded quickly, a lineout maul driving lock Joshua Furno over.

Laidlaw and Haimona traded more penalties, until Haimona lined up another penalty kick with four minutes left to halftime. The kick hit the post, but winger Giovanbattista Venditti snatched it on the bounce and managed, in a pile of bodies, to dot it down.

Instead of three points, Italy ended up with seven and went into halftime only a point behind.

Haimona limped off soon after the restart, and was replaced by Allan. He missed his first goalkick but Laidlaw took his only chance of the half. The four-point lead wasn’t enough, however, and Scotland face a fourth wooden spoon in 11 years.

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