Italy 10 Scotland 13: Paterson's nerve seals victory

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Try: Mi Bergamasco
Con: Pez
Pen: Pez
Try: Paterson
Con: Paterson
Pen: Paterson
Drop: Ross
Half-time: 7-10 Att: 24,973

Italy's dream of pulling off a third Six Nations victory over Scotland was dashed in a thrilling encounter here yesterday.

The home side were undone by a lack of discipline when it mattered - right at the end, when the cool head and accurate boot of Chris Paterson completed Scotland's best Six Nations campaign to date.

This is the first time Scotland have recorded three victories in the tournament since Italy were added to the mix in 2000 and they have certainly earned their reward. Once again their back row was in masterful mode.

But Italy did not disgrace themselves, contributing mightily to a cut and thrust game that was filled with thrills and kept supporters of both sides on the edge of their seats.

The way the home fans had belted out their national anthem suggested that Scotland might have their hands full, and that impression was confirmed by the way Italy started.

They pressed hard at every opportunity and competed like demons at the breakdown. When a probing kick by Ramiro Pez put Paterson under pressure the Scot's clearance went just five metres. After the line-out, from which Italy just scrabbled possession, Pez used the outside of his left foot to put up a perfectly weighted chip, which Paterson could only half-parry. Mirco Bergamasco thundered on to the ball for his third try of the tournament.

Within a couple of minutes both scrum-halves had been replaced, Chris Cusiter with a suspected shoulder injury and Italy's Paul Griffen temporarily, for treatment to a cut. In between the changes the Scots drove long and hard from a line-out, before Cusiter's replacement Mike Blair broke through. He was held short and the ball popped out, but Paterson scooped it up and dived over, his subsequent conversion levelling the score.

For the rest of the first half it was turn and turnabout. First Scotland would press upfield, then Italy. Bergamasco proved a lively bundle of trouble for the Scots. His chip and chase midway through the half rattled the Scots, although their defence was more than equal to the threat when it really mattered. But it all underlined how Italy could not be taken for granted.

The going was good to firm, thus permitting some half-decent breaks by both teams. Paterson managed to put in a couple, once being thrown into touch just centimetres short of the line.

Finally, the fly-half Gordon Ross edged the Scots ahead, on the stroke of half-time, with a simple drop goal after the forwards had taken him well into his strike range.

Italy came straight back at the beginning of the second half, Pablo Canavosio chasing up to the line with Pez in support. The fly-half appeared to touch down, but only after the referee, Alain Rolland, had spotted a knock-on by one of the Azzurri.

Italy surged upfield again. After a scrum, which Scotland were deemed to have collapsed, Pez knocked over a 42-metre penalty to square the score. Shortly after that the Azzurri had the crowd on their feet again when Canavosio beat Sean Lamont to the replacement No 10 Dan Parks' chip.

The Italian right wing jinked through flailing Scottish arms before feeding the speedy outside centre Gonzalo Canale. The blind-side flanker Sergio Parisse then took the move on into the Scottish 22, but when Bergamasco knocked on the threat passed.

Back came Scotland, and with the seconds ticking away they were awarded a penalty some 45m out, in the third minute of added time. The in-form Paterson landed the kick amidst a cacophony of desperate and unsporting whistling from the home supporters.

Italy: C Stoica (Montpellier); P Canavosio (Calvisano), G Canale (Clermont Auvergne), Mi Bergamasco (Stade Français), L Nitoglia (Calvisano); R Pez (Perpignan), P Griffen (Calvisano); S Perugini (Calvisano), F Ongaro (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Calvisano), S Dellape (Agen), M Bortolami (Narbonne, capt), S Parisse (Stade Français), J Sole (Viadana), M Zaffiri (Calvisano). Replacements: S Picone (Treviso) for Griffen, 13-21; E Galon (Overmach Parma) for Stoica, 25; A Zanni (Calvisano) for Zaffiri, 57; A Lo Cicero (L'Aquila) for Castrogiovanni, 58; C Festuccia (Gran Parma) for Ongaro, 65; C Del Fava (Bourgoin) for Dellape, 71.

Scotland: H Southwell (Edinburgh); C Paterson (Edinburgh), M Di Rollo (Edinburgh), A Henderson (Glasgow), S Lamont (Northampton); G Ross (Leeds), C Cusiter (Borders); G Kerr (Leeds), S Lawson (Glasgow), B Douglas (Borders), N Hines (Perpignan), S Murray (Edinburgh), J White (Sale, capt), S Taylor (Edinburgh), A Hogg (Edinburgh). Replacements: M Blair (Edinburgh) for Cusiter, 10; C Smith (Edinburgh) for Douglas, 58;D Parks (Glasgow) for Ross, 65; A Kellock (Edinburgh) for Murray, 72; S Webster (Edinburgh) for Lamont, 75; D Hall (Edinburgh) for Lawson, 79.

Referee: A Rolland (Ireland).