Planet Rugby

Scotland make it two from two

20th August 2011 19:10

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Scotland s scrum half Mike Blair scores v italy

Winner: Mike Blair scores for Scotland

Scotland beat Italy 23-12 at Murrayfield on Saturday to complete their World Cup preparations with a second consecutive win.

Both teams scored two tries but three penalties from the boot of home fly-half Dan Parks proved the difference after 80 minutes.

The result sees the Scots build on the 10-6 win over Ireland a fortnight ago although the success was marred somewhat by the sight of Nikki Walker leaving the field on a stretcher in the closing stages with a knee injury.

Coach Andy Robinson will name his World Cup squad on Monday.

The crowd in sun-kissed Edinburgh found immediate cause for excitement as the Scots surged straight into attack. The hosts got off to a cracking start as Alasdair Dickinson scored his first Test try on the ten minute mark following a slaloming run by wing Max Evans.

Italy replied through a try from wing Tommaso Benvenuti which Mirco Bergamasco converted but Parks' second penalty gave Scotland a 13-7 half-time lead.

Scotland continued to earn the bulk of possession and territory, but the good early work was spoiled when they gave away a series of turnovers.

The action continued to be scrappy and disjointed after the restart with the Scots looking increasingly nervy.

And it was the Italians who were producing the more attractive and constructive rugby - much to the frustration of the vast majority among the 20,245-strong crowd.

The visitors' pluck and endeavour was rewarded in the 48th minute as Treviso scrum-half Fabio Semenzato scored the second try.

The Scots' fringe defence was markedly absent as the smallest man on the pitch darted through a gap to score from close quarters after a well-controlled pick and drive sequence.

Scotland needed a stroke of good fortune and the vision of vice-captain Mike Blair to ease the jitters.

Andrea Masi fatally delayed his clearance kick, giving Edinburgh scrum-half Blair the chance to charge it down and win the race for the critical try.

The conversion was a formality for Parks, who stretched the gap to eight points, and two minutes later he thumped over a 40-metre penalty to give the hosts even more breathing space.

For Scotland:
Tries: Dickinson, Blair
Cons: Parks 2
Pens: Parks 3

For Italy:
Tries: Benvenuti, Semenzato
Cons: Bergamasco

Scotland: 15 Rory Lamont, 14 Max Evans, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Graeme Morrison, 11 Simon Danielli, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Mike Blair, 8 Richie Vernon, 7 John Barclay, 6 Kelly Brown, 5 Alastair Kellock (capt), 4 Nathan Hines, 3 Moray Low, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Euan Murray, 18 Richie Gray, 19 Ross Rennie, 20 Chris Cusiter, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Nikki Walker.

Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Tommaso Benvenuti, 13 Gonzalo Canale, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mirco Bergamasco, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Paul Derbyshire, 5 Cornelius Van Zyl, 4 Carlo Antonio Del Fava, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Fabio Ongaro, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Alessandro Zanni, 20 Edoardo Gori, 21 Riccardo Bocchino, 22 Joshua Furno.

Venue: Murrayfield
Referee: Dave Pearson (England)
Assistant referees: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland), Robin Goodliffe (England)
TMO: Huw Watkins (Wales)

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