Greig Laidlaw kicks 21 points as Scotland win their first match of the 2016 Six Nations
The Scots’ led 17-10 at the break thanks to tries from John Barclay and John Hardie
Leonardo Ghiraldini’s first half score kept the Azzurri in the game
Tommy Seymour sealed the Scots’ win with his try one minute from full-time
Scotland finally ended their Six Nations losing run by in the end easing to victory in an often scrappy encounter against Italy in Rome on Saturday.
Early tries from flankers John Barclay and John Hardie, both converted by Greig Laidlaw, who added a penalty, opened up a 17-3 lead after 26 minutes.
Leonardo Ghiraldini’s try on the half-hour roused the hosts, and Marco Fuser’s second score gave them hope.
But four more penalties from Laidlaw, who scored 21 points, kept the Scots in front before Tommy Seymour’s late try sealed the victory
Kelly Haimona initially gave Italy a three point lead from the tee after eight minutes but soon after the visitors captured the lead as Hoggs’ dancing feet made space down the touchline before he offloaded to Barclay, who finished superbly in the corner. Laidlaw then converted confidently, 3-7.
Scotland then got their second try after 16 minutes with Hardy, this time, finishing in the corner after a show and step from Finn Russell opened the Italian defence.
Laidlaw once again hit the conversion before adding a penalty to give Scotland a 14 point lead, 3-17.
Italy though, spearheaded by their iconic captain Sergio Parisse, came back with their number 8 combining with Haimona and Campagnaro with some beautiful hands with hooker Ghiraldini finishing off what was a cracking try for the hosts. Haimona then converted to reduce the deficit to seven points heading into the break.
Italy, who were supposed to have supremacy at the scrum in this match, were struggling with their discipline as Laidlaw slotted his kick to give the Scots’s a ten point lead after the restart, 10-20.
The hosts then actually had a sustained period of pressure in Scotland’s 22 but could only come away with three points from Haimona to reduce the deficit once again to seven points.
Laidlaw though knocked over two further penalties to put Scotland back in control, 13-26.
The Dark Blues though were up against it just after the hour as Russell was sin-binned for handling in the ruck. With the man advantage, Italy gained quick possession from their line-out and eventually drove it over through Marco Fuser with Haimona converting to reduce the deficit to six points.
Laidlaw’s reliable boot though edged Scotland back clear soon after the restart, 20-29.
Italy, who were the much more threatening in the closing stages, found themselves one-man up yet again after 75 minutes when Willem Nel was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock on.
However, against the run of play Scotland sealed the win as Hogg’s sublime flick to Tommy Seymour put the winger in one minute from time. Laidlaw then converted to complete the scoring, 20-36.
MAN OF THE MATCH
Italy: Sergio Parisse
Italy: 15 David Odiete, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Michele Campagnaro, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Kelly Haimona, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Joshua Furno, 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matteo Zanusso, 18 Martin Castrogiovanni, 19 Valerio Bernabo, 20 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Edoardo Padovani, 23 Andrea Pratichetti
Scotland: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Duncan Taylor, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 David Denton, 7 John Hardie, 6 John Barclay, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Rory Sutherland, 18 Moray Low, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Sean Lamont
Date: Saturday, February 27
Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Kick-off: 14:25 GMT
Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa)
Assistant Referees: Pascal Gauzère (France), Nick Briant (New Zealand)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)