Scots suffer

Rugby Union: Italy A 29 Scotland A 17
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The Independent Online
SCOTLAND'S preparations for the Five Nations suffered a setback here yesterday when Italy A inflicted a heavy defeat on their Caledonian counterparts to emphasise their eligibility for an expanded European Championship.

The Italians' 4-1 try advantage underlined their rapid improvement and justified the accolades that were heaped upon them after the World Cup. For Scotland this should have been a morale-boosting jog, especially as their Under-21 team had earlier shown the way with a 31-10 victory, but, despite winning the greater share of lineout possession, they failed to exert any control and missed countless kicking chances.

The Melrose full-back Rowen Shepherd had a disastrous day with the boot, kicking three goals from 10 attempts before handing over kicking duties to the stand-off, Gregor Townsend.

Scotland started well when, after a centre move involving Scott Hastings, the Italians were penalised for handling on the ground and Shepherd put the visitors ahead with a penalty. Rob Wainwright thendelivered a perfectly timed pass to scrum-half Bryan Redpath, who raced over for an unconverted try. Italy got their first points with a penalty by Diego Dominguez, but Shepherd's second penalty maintained an eight-point advantage for the Scots. Italy's adventurous play eventually bore fruit when, from a penalty move, Tomaso Visentin ran through to score a fine try.

Shepherd's third penalty five minutes into the second half kept Scotland ahead but Italy profited as Alessandro Troncon set up a score for Julian Gardner. After Townsend had regained the lead for the Scots with a penalty, the Italians took control with a fine try by their blindsideflanker Orazio Arancio. Dominguez succeeded with a conversion and the stand-off was on target as he added the extra points to a late try by Paulo Vaccari.

Italy A: M Ravazzolo; P Vaccari, I Francescato, T Visentin, F Roselli; D Dominguez, A Troncon; M Dal Sie, C Orlandi, F Properzi, M Giacheri, P Pedroni, O Arancio, J Gardner, A Sgorlon (capt).

Scotland A: R Shepherd (Edinburgh Academicals); C Joiner (Melrose), S Hastings (Watsonians), I Jardine, K Logan (both Stirling County); G Townsend (Northampton), B Redpath (Melrose); D Hilton (Bath), K McKenzie (Stirling County), P Wright (Boroughmuir), S Campbell (Dundee High School FP), S Murray (Edinburgh Academicals), S Reid (Boroughmuir), E Peters (Bath), R Wainwright (West Hartlepool, capt).

Referee: G Simmonds (Wales).