Italy 20 Scotland 21 match report: Duncan Weir wonder strike saves sluggish Scots
Fly-half lands last-minute drop goal to clinch a first Six Nations win for Johnson’s struggling side and put Italy on course for the wooden spoon
Saturday 22 February 2014
Duncan Weir’s last-gasp drop goal silenced the Stadio Olimpico and earned Scotland a dramatic victory in the contest to avoid the Six Nations wooden spoon.
Tries from Tommy Allan and Joshua Furno looked to have put Italy on course for their first win in this season’s tournament but, 10 seconds from the final whistle, the fly-half split the uprights from 40 yards to the delight of Scott Johnson, their under-fire coach.
“I was really happy for him,” said the Australian. “Because his is in a position that carries a lot of responsibility. I seen some growth in the lad and I am so pleased.”
Prior to Weir’s moment of magic, Scotland had conjured up their first tries of the Championship through Alex Dunbar’s impressive double yet their defence failed miserably to keep a confident Italy side at bay.
Scotland had touched down in Rome in desperate need of a win after the 20-0 home defeat by England a fortnight ago. The visitors showed a hunger to attack in the opening stages but they got lucky after 13 minutes when Allan, a Scot playing for the opposition by virtue of his Italian mother, knocked the ball on just as he was about to finish off the home side’s first real attack.
But the Perpignan back was still able to put his side ahead as he successfully kicked a penalty awarded for an earlier infringement.
Greig Laidlaw put Scotland on the scoreboard as he tucked away a penalty of his own before Allan restored Italy’s three-point lead.
Scotland tried to be positive but their decision-making was once again their weak point, as the ball was often handed back to the hosts just as anything meaningful was brewing. The opposite was true of Italy as they opened Scotland up before Allan crashed through two weak tackles to score his second try for Italy, before converting himself.
Despite that setback, Johnson’s side made a confident start to the second period, trimming the Italians back by three points as Laidlaw fired over a 35-yard penalty.
They wasted a chance to cut the deficit further when Laidlaw opted against kicking an easy penalty in favour of a surprise tap-and-go, only to see Matt Scott slip just as he played in the centre.
But then, after 54 minutes, the visitors’ long wait for their first try of the tournament was ended. From a ruck, Scotland worked the ball through Scott, then Stuart Hogg and finally Dunbar, who drove between two Italian defenders before going over in the corner. They still trailed though after Laidlaw failed with his conversion attempt from wide on the right.
But in the 68th minute that changed as Dunbar scored his second try. Sean Lamont burst past Allan before passing to replacement scrum-half Chris Cusiter who shunted on for Dunbar to sprint home from 25 yards out, ignoring support runner Scott.
Weir took over the kicking duties with Laidlaw off and added the extra two points to put Scotland seemingly on course for victory.
But their carelessness looked like it had come back to haunt them as Sergio Parisse was allowed to play in Furno to level before Luciano Orquera restored Italy’s lead with the conversion.
It left the home crowd preparing to celebrate a rare Six Nations scalp until Weir’s decisive intervention. “It’s the first time I have dropped a goal for Scotland and it has never been more important,” he said. “I am absolutely delighted. I am just so thankful it went over.”
Italy: L McLean; A Esposito, M Campagnaro, G Garcia, L Sarto; T Allan (L Orquera, 68), E Gori (T Botes, 63); A De Marchi (M Aguero, 57), L Ghiraldini (D Giazzon, 57), M Castrogiovanni (L Cittadini, 57), Q Geldenhuys, J Furno, A Zanni (M Bortolami, 73),R Barbieri (P Derbyshire, 63), S Parisse.
Scotland: S Hogg; T Seymour (M Evans, 55), A Dunbar (D Taylor, 72), M Scott, S Lamont, D Weir, G Laidlaw (C Cusiter, 63), R Grant (A Dickinson, 58), S Lawson, M Low (G Cross, 38), R Gray, J Hamilton, R Wilson, C Fusaro, J Beattie.
Referee: S Walsh (Australia)
Aaron Hernandez: American Football in the dock as NFL star player's murderous double life is revealed
Chelsea vs Manchester United: Why Blues are the least popular team in the league
Chelsea vs Manchester United combined XI: Thibaut Courtois or David De Gea? Juan Mata or Willian? Who makes our team?
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: Where are the tickets for the fight?
Chelsea transfer news: Jose Mourinho plays down news signings Nathan and Yoshinori Muto but talks up Ruben Loftus-Cheek
- 2 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 3 US? China? India? The 10 biggest economies in 2030 will be...
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling