Scotland snatch win over Italy
June 22, 2013
Matt Scott thunders into the Italian defence
© Getty Images
An injury-time try from Alasdair Strokosch set up a 30-29 victory for Scotland over Italy in the third-place play-off in the Quadrangular Tournament in Pretoria.
The Scotland flanker surged through a gap in the Italian line, created by Sergio Parisse's impatience in defence, to claim a last-ditch try, which was converted by Greig Laidlaw to seal the victory for Scotland.
Last year, Laidlaw did the same thing to Samoa when he slotted the winning points, and there was never any doubt he would forgo the chance to repeat the feat. And as the ball sailed between the posts, the Scots began their celebrations, leaving Italy to wonder how it had gone wrong for them.
Scotland were given a timely boost before the match when number eight Johnnie Beattie came through a late fitness test and was able to start, but the danger Italy posed was soon on show as his side got off to the worst possible start, conceding a try inside the first minute.
The Scots failed to deal with the kick off to put themselves under pressure, before wing Tommy Seymour came rushing out of his line to leave the defence exposed. Italian wing Leonardo Sarto used the space to wrong-foot Tom Heathcote and score an easy try, converted by Alberto Di Bernardo.
The Scots hit back in style, forcing Italy to concede a lineout on their own 22. Flanker David Denton went on a rumble through the Azzurri defence and his sublime offload sent centre Matt Scott jinking the rest of the way to the line. With Laidlaw adding the simple conversion, the sides were level again.
A collapsed scrum and Di Bernardo's resulting penalty edged Italy ahead once more but they quickly conceded a soft score to hand the initiative back to the Scots. Italy seemed to have cleared up a dangerous chip from Scotland cleanly enough, but Giovanbattista Venditti tried to run the ball clear and when he lost hold of it Laidlaw pounced to put wing Sean Lamont over.
The conversion and a penalty soon afterwards gave the Scots a seven-point cushion but they were living dangerously, the most obvious let-offs when Sergio Parisse missed his support player on the outside and when Sarto made another clean break down the touchline but his inside pass missed centre Alberto Sgarbi.
The move did force the Scots to carry over their own line and the Italians took full advantage, forcing their opponents to collapse a succession of scrums and inevitably winning a penalty try, which Di Bernardo converted to level the scores.
An exchange of penalties between Laidlaw and Di Bernardo before and after the break left the contest all square. Italy then went to their bench in the search for the inspiration that could allow them to steal the game, but it was Scotland who came closest to a score with Scott again crossing the line, only for the television match official to rule that the final offload from Tim Visser had gone forward.
The near-miss lifted Italy and Scotland celebrations soon turned to grim faces as a penalty at the resulting scrum was booted clear before another kick from the resulting maul handed Di Bernardo the chance to put his side ahead. He took it gratefully and repeated the feat a few minutes later to give his side a six-point cushion.
Scotland had a chance to haul themselves back, but Duncan Taylor was inches short and then Laidlaw knocked on as he tried to nip over the resulting ruck on the Italian line. Another scrum and another penalty followed before Italy cleared their line.
However, all that was merely a prelude to the dramatic finish which produced Strokosch's converted try and a lucky escape for Scotland.
© Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Top 14, Super Rugby and the Aviva Premiership with fireworks and monsters both featuring
Firdose Moonda looks at the moves towards greater integration within South African rugby ... and what the future holds
It is 100 years this week since the last international match played in Europe before the outbreak of World War One. Rewind remembers the fixture's longest-living survivor
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14