6N: Scotland posts first win and tries in beating Italy 17-0
ROME (AP) — Scotland recorded its first victory and first tries in this Six Nations as it beat Italy 17-0 in sunny Rome on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Italy failed to score for the second time this month, and its record losing streak in the championship grew to 25 tests.
Scotland’s first try was worth waiting for; a solo 50-meter counterattack by captain and fullback Stuart Hogg, who exorcized some demons after he made pivotal mistakes in the opening losses to Ireland and England.
“Thankfully, it just opens up for me but there’s a lot of method in the madness to get us into that position,” Hogg said about his try. “I wasn’t making a mess of that one, I can assure you.”
After halftime of the scrappy match in perfect conditions, fellow backs Chris Harris and Adam Hastings also dotted down. Hastings converted his own try, his only successful kick from four attempts.
The Scots also missed at least three other try chances — one of them disallowed for a forward pass — as they ended a six-match winless run in the championship and lifted some pressure on coach Gregor Townsend, who was retained after a dismal Rugby World Cup campaign last year.
Scotland knows it needs to improve more before welcoming France to Murrayfield in two weeks. But at least its defence was in good shape after conceding only two tries in three games.
“We’ve nailed them. Job done,” Harris said.
“I’m delighted with the try but ultimately we’ve come here to get the victory and I’m happy from that perspective. First job is get the win here and get the ball rolling and do a job at home next.”
Hastings couldn’t convert early scrum domination into points when he missed a penalty kick, while Italy waived off a penalty kick chance for an attacking lineout, only to be turned over. That would become a theme.
Hogg finally scored the first points in the 23rd minute. Running back a kick into his half, Hogg received the ball on halfway. He dummied and accelerated to split two defenders then slipped around opposing fullback Jayden Hayward to score in the right corner. Hogg spilled the ball over the line in the narrow loss to Ireland, and this time plunged with both arms around the ball.
Scotland thought it had another try soon after from scrumhalf Ali Price, but the TMO confirmed a forward offload from Hamish Watson to Sam Johnson.
Italy’s Tomasso Allan hit his only penalty shot against the left post, and Price lost the ball in the tackle of Italy flanker Jake Polledri just in front of the Italy tryline as the half ended. It was only the second time Italy failed to score a first-half point in a home Six Nations match.
Scotland dominated after the break but struggled to score.
Polledri knocked the ball from Jamie Ritchie’s grasp close to the Italy tryline, but Ritchie redeemed himself by turning over possession. That launched a Scotland attack of 17 phases before center Harris powered over in a double tackle to double their lead.
Hastings’ conversion attempt hit the left post.
Italy went close to getting back in the game through backs Mattia Bellini and Matteo Minozzi, much to the delight of the passionate home fans, but Italy’s scrum lost its edge when prop Marco Riccioni had to be carried off, and starting tighthead Giosue Zilocchi was forced back on.
Italy’s hopes diminished for good when replacement hooker Federico Zani was sin-binned with 10 minutes to go for a tip tackle on lock Grant Gilchrist, and Hastings rubbed it in with a late converted try as Italy ran out of motivation.