A last-gasp try by Alasdair Strokosch boosted Scotland to a 30-29 consolation victory over Italy on Saturday, reports JON CARDINELLI at Loftus Versfeld.
It was a game without intensity, a contest between two teams at the end of their tether.
Both came to South Africa for this quadrangular series on the back of a long European season and it was a tired bunch of players who squared off for an uninspiring battle to avoid the wooden spoon.
Italy lost to South Africa in Durban, and then to Samoa in Nelspruit, while Scotland were similarly unsuccessful, going down to Samoa and then South Africa. Both teams were desperate to finish the series with a win, and for a long time it seemed as if Italy would be the side to achieve that modest objective.
There was nothing between the sides initially, but Italy began to build some momentum as the game progressed.
Their dominant scrum won the team a penalty try before half-time and after the break it was flyhalf Alberto di Bernardo who booted them to a 29-23 lead.
Scotland reacted late in the piece, launching a sustained assault on the Italian tryline. The Italy defence held firm, however, and it seemed as if the Azzurri would end their tour with a win.
But Scotland persisted, and a defensive error by the Italians allowed Strokosch to break the line and score. Greig Laidlaw's subsequent conversion gave Scotland an unlikely victory, their only success of the tour.
Italy – Tries: Leonardo Sarto, penalty try. Conversions: Alberto di Bernardo (2). Penalties: Di Bernardo (5).
Scotland – Tries: Matt Scott, Sean Lamont, Alasdair Strokosch. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (3). Penalties: Laidlaw (3)
Italy – 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Sergio Parisse (c), 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Joshua Furno, 5 Marco Bortolami, 4 Leandro Cedaro, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matias Aguero.
Subs: 16 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Alessandro Zanni, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Gonzalo Canale, 23 Luke McLean.
Scotland – 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Sean Lamont, 10 Tom Heathcote, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Alasdair Strokosch, 6 David Denton, 5 Alastair Kellock, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Scott Lawson, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Moray Low, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Grant Gilchrist, 20 Robert Harley, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Duncan Taylor, 23 Tim Visser.
Photo: Alexander Joe/AFP Photo
Catrakilis still the man for WP
Demetri Catrakilis represents WP’s best chance of winning the Currie Cup title at Newlands this Saturday, writes JON CARDINELLI.
What we’ve learned
Five lessons from the Currie Cup semi-finals, according to SIMON BORCHARDT.
Pollard should have played 10
Starting Handré Pollard at inside centre cost the Blue Bulls a chance of reaching the Currie Cup final, writes MARK KEOHANE in Business Day.