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Italy ends on a winning note

Latest update : 2008-03-15

Andrea Marcato scored a vital drop goal in the final minute of Italy's match against the Scots to give his country its very first win in this year's Six Nations.

Fullback Andrea Marcato scored a last-minute drop goal to give Italy a 23-20 win over Scotland on the final day of the Six Nations on Saturday.

The win was not sufficiently big, however, for the Italians to avoid the wooden spoon, Scotland just avoiding a second successive bottom place.

Marcato kicked 13 points with the rest coming from a Gonzalo Canale touchdown and a penalty try as Azzurri coach Nick Mallett secured his first win since succeeding Pierre Berbizier in November.

Tries by Mike Blair and Allister Hogg, a Dan Parks penalty and another perfect kicking display by Chris Paterson, whose two conversions and a penalty took his tally to 33 goals in a row, were not enough to give the Scots a positive ending to a poor campaign.

The margin of victory was just two points short of what Italy needed to move above the Scots, who beat England 15-9 last week for their only win the tournament, in the final standings.

The home side had Scotland in trouble in the fifth minute when they stole the ball from a scrum in the visitors' 22 but they were let down by poor hands and some wild distribution from flyhalf Andrea Masi.

Scotland then had to reorganise their backline, with Andrew Henderson coming in at centre and Simon Webster moving out wide after when wing Simon Danielli, playing his first international in three years, was taken off with an ankle injury.



The Italians kept up the early pressure and in the 12th minute were awarded a penalty try when Scotland collapsed the scrum as the home team surged to the line. Marcato slotted the simple conversion.

The visitors hit back nine minutes later when flanker Hogg sprinted over after they had opened up the hosts' defence with some neat handling over several phases.

Paterson kicked the extras and Parks split the posts with a long-distance penalty to put Scotland in front.

The Scots started to put some fluid rugby together and captain Blair caught the Italian defence napping at a ruck, picking up to run over unopposed on the stroke of halftime after Marcato had briefly levelled with a penalty.

Paterson kicked the conversion to make it 17-10 to Scotland at the break.

Scotland made a bright start to the second half, but the Azzurri held out in defence and missed a chance to cut the deficit when Marcato sent a long-distance goal kick wide.

Italy were on equal terms again on the hour when captain Sergio Parisse intercepted a Parks pass, deep in his own half, and, after a long run down the right, flicked the ball to centre Canale, who ran between the posts and set up an easy conversion for Marcato.

Marcato and Paterson exchanged penalties before the Italian fullback chipped over a drop goal to send the home crowd into raptures.

It was Italy's fourth triumph over Scotland, after they beat them at home in 2000 and 2004 and 37-17 in Edinburgh last season, and avenged their narrow defeat in last year's World Cup.

Date created : 2008-03-15