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The BBC's Mike Naylor
"They out-thought and out-attacked Scotland"
 real 28k

Italy coach Brad Johnston
"You get your backs to the wall and it's in your advantage"
 real 28k

Saturday, 5 February, 2000, 20:22 GMT
Scots destroyed in Italian debut

Italy announced their arrival most forcefully

Italy 34-20 Scotland

Italy marked their Six Nations debut with an emphatic victory over defending champions Scotland in Rome.

Diego Dominguez orchestrated the Scots downfall with an impeccable performance, kicking 29 of his side's 34 points with six penalty kicks, a conversion and a hat-trick of drop goals.

The victory was a most categorical rebuttal of those who questioned whether the Italians were good enough to join the prestigious tournament.

Leslie: Early departure rocked Scotland
The 250-1 championship outsiders had been given no chance against the Scots after conceding 196 points in last year's World Cup, including a century against New Zealand.

Dominguez' inspirational performance was in perfect contrast to that of Scottish kicker Kenny Logan.

He missed four simple kicks and was relieved of his kicking duties by Gregor Townsend mid-way through the second half.

Six Nations Championship

The Scots began disjointedly and were left in disarray after the departure of captain John Leslie in the opening stages.

Leslie, who had battled back to fitness after a long injury, broke down after 13 minutes to be replaced by James McLaren.

By then Logan had missed two relatively simple penalty kicks which would have given the defending champions a comforting lead.

Instead, Italy were boosted by the let-offs and, having opened in disciplined fashion, began to step up the pressure.

Townsend: Could not get his back line going
Townsend edged the title-holders into the lead after 18 minutes with a nervy looking drop goal.

Italy, growing in confidence, retaliated with two quickfire penalties from Dominguez which made it 6-3.

With just a few minutes to go before half time, Scotland regained the lead thanks to a stroke of good fortune.

Glen Metcalfe made a fine burst through the middle but the chance appeared to have gone when he was tackled by Alessandro Troncon.

However as Metcalfe fell, his backpass caught his foot and ricocheted forward for Gordon Bullock to race over for the first try of the match.

Logan slotted the conversion to make it 10-6 with half-time fast approaching.

Troncon: Captain's display
But if Scotland's fans expected the lucky break might finally settle their side's nerves, they were wrong.

With two minutes of injury time to play, the ill-disciplined Scots conceded two further penalties - Dominguez slotting both to edge the Italians back into a 12-10 half-time lead.

Within five minutes of the restart the diminutive fly-half, possibly the smallest man in international rugby, had sealed the Scots fate.

He followed one 35-yard drop goal with another from 45 yards out to make it 18-10.

Logan had the chance to cut the lead to five points a few minutes later but when he put his fourth consecutive effort wide, one sensed Scottish heads drop.

More lax play from the Scots gave Dominguez two more chances at goal and he nailed them both - Townsend squeezing over a nervy consolation kick in between Italy's pair.

With ten minutes to go Dominguez decided to chance his luck with a third drop goal - and it bisected the posts effortlessly to seal a memorable hat-trick.

And as if to counter those who might have still harboured doubts of the true worth of a tryless win, Gianpiero de Carli bundled over for a late five-pointer.

Dominguez slotted the conversion and though there was still time Martin Leslie to score a consolation try for the Scots, it merely put a slightly more respectable gloss on the scoreline.


Italy: M Pini (Brive); D Dallan (Treviso), M Dallan (Treviso), L Martin (Begles-Bordeaux), C Stoica (Narbonne); D Dominguez (Stade Francais), A Troncon (Montferrand, capt); M Cuttitta (Calvisano), A Moscardi (Treviso), T Paoletti (Piacenza), C Checchinato (Treviso), A Gritti (Treviso), M Giovanelli (Rovigo), W Bergamasco (Padua), W Visser (Treviso).

Replacements: A Scanavacca, M Rivaro, M Mazzantini, A Persico, G Lanzi, G De Carli, C Orlandi.

Scotland: G Metcalfe (Glasgow); S Longstaff (Glasgow), J Mayer (Bristol), J Leslie (Newcastle, capt), K Logan (Wasps); G Townsend (Brive), B Redpath (Narbonne); T Smith (Brive), G Bulloch (Glasgow), M Stewart (Northampton), S Murray (Saracens), S Grimes (Newcastle), M Leslie (Edinburgh), B Pountney (Northampton), G Simpson (Glasgow).

Replacements: A Nicol (Glasgow), D Hodge (Edinburgh), J McLaren (Bourgoin), D Hilton (Glasgow), R Russell (Saracens), D Weir (Newcastle), S Reid (Narbonne).

Referee: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa).

Touch judges: Joel Dume (France) and Mark Lawrence (South Africa).
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See also:
05 Feb 00 |  Six Nations
Italy set for Six Nations baptism
04 Feb 00 |  UK
Rugby fans: When in Rome
Links to other Six Nations stories are at the foot of the page.