Autumn Nations Cup: Scotland Come from Behind to Beat Italy 28-17
Scotland and Italy (Photo Credit: Twitter)
Scotland came from behind to top Italy 28-17 and extend its longest winning streak since 2011 in their Autumn Nations Cup opener on Saturday.
Italy hasnt won in more than a year but started with a passion that Scotland could barely handle. The Azzurri deservedly led 17-14 going into the last quarter.
But as Italy started to cool off, Scotland earned more ball, played in the right half, and made the pressure count. The Scots grabbed the lead for good with 12 minutes to go when a kickable penalty was waived and the ambition paid off with lock Scott Cummings crashing over for a converted try.
Scotland’s first scrum penalty led to another lineout maul from which carried replacement hooker George Turner to the line and a bonus-point fourth try.
Flyhalf Duncan Weir, making his first start for Scotland in 4 1/2 years, converted all four and had a try disallowed.
Scotland’s run of five straight wins started with a 17-0 result over Italy in Rome in February but that was a poor quality affair. This one was not. Italy was powerful in the scrums, prop Danilo Fischetti was also a menace in the breakdowns, and Scotland struggled to breathe.
Italy earned a halftime lead for the first time since the Rugby World Cup in Japan last year, but it was only 11-7.
Flyhalf Paolo Garbisi kicked two early penalties while Scotland lost in-form prop Rory Sutherland to a knee injury.
Scotland could rely on its lineout maul for a platform, and wing Duhan van der Merwe slashed through the defense near the tryline and scored.
Scotland led 7-6 but it was brief. Virtually from the kickoff, center Marco Zanon brushed off Weir, Marcello Violi and Mattia Bellini carried on, and fullback Matteo Minozzi finished a wonderful team try in the left corner. Garbisi’s conversion hit the right upright.
Garbisi padded the lead with a third penalty in the second half but Scotland was finally starting to assert itself.
Weir had a try disallowed because the last pass by Sam Johnson was forward. But Scotland came again in bizarre circumstances. Flanker Hamish Watson’s pass off the floor was tapped back by Italy No. 8 Jake Polledri and caught by prop Zander Fagerson. Because he looked offside, Italy stopped and let Fagerson stroll over untouched. But video replays confirmed the try was legit.
After Scotland captain Stuart Hogg misjudged and carried the ball over his tryline, Italy forced another penalty and Garbisi slotted it for 17-14.
But in the 68th, Scotland waived off a penalty kick for a corner lineout, Turner surged to have the Italy defense reeling, and Cummings was too big to be stopped close to the line.
A scrum penalty, corner lineout, and maul ended with Turner being carried over for the bonus fourth try and Scotland’s revival continued. Next weekend the Scots welcome France to Murrayfield, where they beat the Tricolors in March.