Greig Laidlaw unaware of tannoy blast as he kicked Scotland to victory in Italy
The Dark Blues were heading for defeat until Laidlaw slotted over a late penalty.
Greig Laidlaw admits he had to turn a deaf ear to the Italian tannoy blast to ensure Scotland’s NatWest 6 Nations did not end on a sour note.
The scrum-half was lining up his crucial last-gasp penalty in Rome when an announcement came from the Stadio Olimpico PA system.
But the unwelcome broadcast did not put the Clermont Auvergne man off as he slotted over to clinch a 29-27 win.
That precious kick handed the Scots their first away win in the Championship for two years and Laidlaw insisted there was no chance he would let himself be distracted by outside factors.
“Yeah that kick at the end is up there with the best I’ve hit,” said the former skipper.
“But I’ve already said to the boys I’d prefer they don’t get us in that situation again as I don’t want to have to kick too many of them.
“That’s part of my job as a goal-kicker though. It’s down to me to put them over and thankfully I was able to do that on Saturday.
“Somebody mentioned the tannoy announcement but I wasn’t aware. There is always noise and it’s part of being a goal-kicker that you have to block noise out.
“It’s all about technique. If you can hold that and back yourself then thankfully like yesterday they go over.”
Gregor Townsend was heaped with praise for the way his side evolved during the autumn Tests into one of the most thrilling attacking forces in world rugby.
But the Dark Blues had to rely on their forwards to grind down the hosts in Rome as Conor O’Shea’s plucky Azzurri outfit desperately sought to avoid a record-equalling 17th straight tournament defeat.
Scotland's bonus-point win over Italy combines with other results to mean we finish third in the NatWest 6 Nations, equalling our highest placing since Five became Six Nations, a feat also secured in 2013, 2006 & 2001 #AsOne pic.twitter.com/Gi9udkWkaK— Scottish Rugby (@Scotlandteam) March 17, 2018
“It’s massively positive that we now have more than just one way to win,” said Laidlaw. “It’s important too because we were struggling at times but we really grabbed the game by utilising our forwards.
“Big Richie Gray came on and it meant I could chuck some easy ball to the front. He’s such a big man and by adding his weight to the mauls it made a big difference.
“We squeezed them and off the back of putting them under pressure we were able to open the game up.
“By using our skills and coming back blindside to guys like Stuart Hogg and Sean Maitland to find some space. It showed we could play both ways at different points in the game.
“The pleasing thing was that we were 24-12 down at one point but there was no panic at all. We’re delighted that we got ourselves out of a hole.”
The Scots end the Six Nations having picked up victories over France, England and Italy but defeats to Wales and Ireland remain sore points.
Laidlaw’s assessment of his side’s campaign is ‘good – but can do better’.
Miss any of the action from #SuperSaturday?— NatWest 6 Nations (@SixNationsRugby) March 17, 2018
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He said: “Of course we’ve got areas we still need to work on. We want to win the championship so we need to improve.
“But we’ve won three games this time. It’s not getting any easier but we’ve beaten a French team who are improving. We’ve beaten a very good England side and a good Italian team.
“We put in a good performance against Ireland but the result so we need to learn from that, learn from today too.
“So it’s been a good championship, although we could have done slightly better. We’re evolving, we’re getting better and it’s important we really drive that along with the coaches.”