Italy recorded a 13-6 victory over Scotland in Rome on Saturday in a result that leaves the visitors with the Six Nations Wooden Spoon.
Italy claimed a gritty 13-6 victory over Scotland on Saturday in a result that handed the visitors the Six Nations Championship Wooden Spoon.
It was apparent that this was a Wooden Spoon decider as both teams shut up shop and tried not to lose more than take the game by the scruff of the neck. Possibly that is doing a disservice to Jacques Brunel's outfit though, as they did enjoy spells of territory in which players ran straight.
But the first-half only managed to produce a grand total of six points as Mirco Bergamasco and Greig Laidlaw traded a penalty apiece in the sunshine. Italy reemerged in hot form though following the turnaround and enjoyed a purple patch that led to Giovanbattista Venditti going over for five points.
That converted try on 43 minutes proved to be the match-winner as only another shot from Laidlaw and then a late Kris Burton drop-goal troubled the scorers in the remaining 37 minutes in Rome.
Scotland end the 2012 Six Nations with no wins to their name in a campaign that has left the pressure mounting on coach Andy Robinson.
The Englishman was forced to make a late change to his side when prop Allan Jacobsen failed a fitness test before kick-off, with John Welsh starting. Meanwhile, the Italians were also without a first-choice player after hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini pulled out injured.
But it was the opposing hooker, Ross Ford, who was in the spotlight during the action at the Stadio Olimpico as the Scottish line-out struggled to fire throughout. That hurt their game.
As mentioned, the first 40 minutes struggled to excite as Bergamasco and Laidlaw kicked one penalty each. But then after the break Venditti found an opening as he burst through a Stuart Hogg tackle to touch down. Burton sent over the conversion from under the posts.
Scotland did answer in the 60th minute via another kick from Laidlaw but when Burton sent over a drop-goal three minutes from time, Scotland were beaten for the fifth time in 2012.
Man of the match: Back from a rib injury, prop Martin Castrogiovanni was superb for Italy while lock Quintin Geldenhuys and number eight David Denton also put in good shifts.
Moment of the match: No prizes for guessing this one. Italy wing Giovanbattista Venditti scoring on 43 minutes to send Rome wild. A key try that proved to be the difference.
Villain of the match: If we have to then it will be the yellow card trio at Stadio Olimpico.
Pen: Laidlaw 2
Yellow cards: Nick de Luca – 39 mins; Jim Hamilton – 56 mins; Alessandro Zanni – 66 mins
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Gonzalo Canale, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (captain), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Joshua Furno, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Manoa Vosawai, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Giulio Toniolatti.
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Max Evans, 13 Nick de Luca, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Greig Laidlaw, 9 Mike Blair, 8 David Denton, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jim Hamilton, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford (captain), 1 John Welsh.
Replacements: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Euan Murray, 18 Alastair Kellock, 19 Richie Vernon, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Jack Cuthbert.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: George Clancy (Ireland), Pascal Gauzere (France)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)