Italy 27-29 Scotland: Greg Laidlaw kicks late penalty to seal dramatic win for Scots
By Robert Mulhern
Last Updated: 17/03/18 5:09pm
Scotland scored a late penalty to break Italian hearts after an enthralling Six Nations contest saw them snatch a 29-27 victory from the jaws of defeat.
Tommy Allan opened the scoring with a penalty after five minutes, but Fraser Brown hit back with a try for Scotland after a Finn Russell break sent the home defence back-peddling and that left the visitors leading 5-3.
It might have been expected that Scotland would seize control of the contest, but Italy, playing the kind of fast attacking rugby Gregor Townsend has consistently preached to his Scotland side, stormed forward.
With Parisse, Negri and Polledi all setting the tone up front, Allan capitalised on field position from a penalty after a high tackle on Parisse to step inside Huw Jones and touch down.
Italy led 10-5, and they looked every ounce a team that had hit on a winning gameplan. They were intense and accurate, unrecognisable almost. And unlike the flashes they'd showed in previous contests, they were relentless through the opening half in Rome.
By the end of the first quarter, they led 17-5 after Allan, threaded a beautifully weighted chip behind the Scottish cover for flying full-back Matteo Minozzi to score.
But if Scotland appeared to be floundering then they would conjure the kind of score of their own, from a maul, that was to prove Italy's undoing as the contest rolled on.
John Barclay got on the end of that drive in the second quarter, but it was a try against the run of play and Italy finished the half, unlucky not to have added to their total.
The big question with the scoreboard showing 17-12 at half-time was could the hosts maintain this momentum and they responded emphatically two minutes after the break when Allan surged clear in broken play to make it 24-12.
Minutes before, Jake Polledri had a try disallowed by the TMO after a knock on, and minutes later Italy spurned what looked like a certain score when a Parisse pass was spilled with the line at Italy's mercy.
It was a big moment and soon after the hosts started to fade as Scotland put their stamp on the contest. But ironically, it was their tight game that proved their trump card and their maul in particular, against an Italy side who had thus far run them ragged.
Time and again the Scots kicked to the corners as Italy's growing fatigue yielded penalties and when Sean Maitland crossed early in the final quarter, the momentum had very definitely shifted.
With the scores standing at 24-19, Scotland pushed again and when Stuart Hogg popped up out wide to cross and leave Scotland with a 26-24 lead on 70 minutes, it looked like the defining play.
But Italy came again.
And it appeared as though Allan had left them with the most remarkable victory with four minutes to go when he hit a penalty to edge the hosts 27-26 in front, before they conceded a penalty and Greig Laidlaw stepped up to break Italian hearts.
Man of the Match
Tommy Allan. On most other afternoon's a two try performance with an assist and a late late penalty from distance would have been enough to earn your side victory. It wasn't to be for the Italian fly-half who was magnificent in defeat.