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Scotland leave it late to beat Italy

Alasdair Strokosch's converted try at the death saw Scotland snatch an unlikely 30-29 victory over Italy in the final game of their summer tour.

Despite being outplayed by the Italians for long periods, Scottish pressure paid dividends as they recovered from a six-point deficit to conjure up a try before the final hooter and hand Greig Laidlaw the chance to win the match with the conversion.

It was sheer determination that created the score, winning a penalty after the 80 minutes was up and then creating space for flanker Strokosch to round the despairing tackle of Lorenzo Cittadini and go over the line. Last year, Laidlaw did the same thing to Samoa when he slotted the winning points, and there was never any doubt he would forgo the chance to repeat the feat.

Italy scored a try inside the first minute when the Scots failed to deal with the kick off to put themselves under pressure, before wing Tommy Seymour came rushing out of his line to leave the defence exposed. Italian wing Leonardo Sarto used the space to wrong-foot Tom Heathcote and score an easy try, converted by Alberto Di Bernardo.

The Scots hit back in style, forcing Italy to concede a lineout on their own 22. Flanker David Denton went on a rumble through the Azzurri defence and his sublime offload sent centre Matt Scott jinking the rest of the way to the line. With Heathcote adding the simple conversion, the sides were level again.

A collapsed scrum and Di Bernardo's resulting penalty edged Italy ahead once more but they quickly conceded a soft score to hand the initiative back to the Scots. Italy seemed to have cleared up a dangerous chip from Scotland cleanly enough, but Giovanbattista Venditti tried to run the ball clear and when he lost hold of it Laidlaw pounced to put wing Sean Lamont over.

The conversion and a penalty soon afterwards gave the Scots a seven-point cushion but they were living dangerously and the Italians forced their opponents to collapse a succession of scrums and inevitably won a penalty try, which Di Bernardo converted to level the scores.

An exchange of penalties between Laidlaw and Di Bernardo before and after the break left the contest all square. Di Bernardo then gave his side a six-point cushion with two penalties

Scotland had a chance to haul themselves back, but Duncan Taylor was inches short and then Laidlaw knocked on as he tried to nip over the resulting ruck on the Italian line. Another scrum and another penalty followed before Italy cleared their line.

However, all that was merely a prelude to the dramatic finish which produced Strokosch's converted try and a lucky escape for Scotland.


From Belfast Telegraph