Italy's World Cup preparations suffered a severe jolt when they went down 18-16 to Scotland A at McDiarmid Park, Perth, yesterday. For once Diego Dominguez, that normally reliable goal-kicker, failed to find his range and accuracy early and after clawingtheir way back from 3-18 after 65 minutes, the Italians eventually ran out of time. The Scots though were thoroughly deserving of what was the fourth win in a row by their second string and a suitable encore to their achievement earlier this season whenthey became the first team to defeat the Springboks on their recent tour.
The Scots led 8-0 at half-time and, inspired by their pack, they scored two tries - by their No8 Eric Peters and scrum-half Bryan Redpath - to one by full-back Luigi Troiani, following up a diagonal kick by Francescato. Peters plunged over from a line-out while Redpath, who over-kicked throughout the first half, battled through several tackles in broken play.
While Dominguez missed his first three kicks before finishing with a flourish, the Scots passed up a total of 23 points with wayward goal-kicks, full-back Rowen Shepherd slotting one out of four before passing on the job to the winger Cameron Glasgow. Defeat for a side containing nine of those who had run Wales close in Cardiff last autumn was also a serious blow to the pride of the Italian squad. They had made no secret of the fact that they fancied their chances against the full Scotland side. Italy, who had once complained about playing a World Cup tie in the rustic setting of Otley, were not happy either about being farmed out to a provincial stadium in the first senior rugby match played on a Scottish football ground since 1906.
At the same time Italy acknowledged the dangers of playing hungry and ambitious opponents at a time when the full Scotland side is going through a depressing spell. The implications of Scoland A's win should be known soon with the selectors due to announce a team on Wednesday for the full internationalwith Canada on 21 January. The second row Damian Cronin, loose head David Hilton, winger Craig Joiner, flanker Fergus Wallace and centre Ronnie Ericksson top the list of candidates for promotion.
Scotland A: Tries: Peters, Redpath. Conversion: Glasgow. Penalties: Shepherd, Glasgow.
Italy: Try: Bonomi. Conversion: Dominguez. Penalties: Dominguez 4.
Scotland A: R Shepherd (Edinburgh Acads); C Joiner (Melrose), R Eriksson (Stirling County), C Glasgow (Heriot's), D Hodge (Watsonians); B Redpath (Melrose), D Hilton (Bath); K McKenzie (Stirling County, capt), P Wright (Boroughmuir), D Cronin (Bourges), S Campbell (Dundee High), F Wallace (GHK), E Peters (Bath), I Smith (Gloucester).
Italy: L Troiani (L'Aquila); M Ravazzolo (Calvisano), I Francescato (Treviso), S Bonomi (Milan), Marcello Cuttitta (Milan); D Dominguez (Milan), A Troncon (Treviso); Massimo Cuttitta (Milan), C Orlandi (Piacenza), F Properzi (Milan), R Favaro (Treviso), M Giacheri (Treviso), O Arancio (Catania), D Scaglia (Trarvisium), A Sgorlon (Dona). Replacement: P Pedroni (Milan) for Sgorlon, 66.
Referee: Mr G Black (Ireland).