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Scotland 21-8 Italy

Scotland's Nikki Walker

Highlights - Scotland beat Italy to avoid wooden spoon

Scotland (6) 21
Tries: De Luca, Walker Cons: Paterson Pens: Paterson 3

Italy (8) 8
Tries: Masi Cons: Pens: Bergamasco

By Colin Moffat

Scotland ended their long try-drought at Murrayfield to beat Italy and avoid last place in the Six Nations table.

Andrea Masi took advantage of some sloppy home defending to score an early try and the visitors were 8-6 ahead after a tight first half.

But the Scots dominated after the break and Nick De Luca nipped over the line, while Nikki Walker powered through for a second touchdown soon after.

Chris Paterson added the rest of the home points with his trusty boot.

Scotland's record cap holder could even afford to miss with a couple of very tricky kicks as the hosts triumphed comfortably in what has become the wooden spoon decider in recent seasons.

Young players impress Robinson

Scotland head coach Andy Robinson promised an offloading game before kick off and the home side moved the ball around with confidence in the opening minutes.

Italy held on with some solid challenges and Scotland had to be content with a fourth-minute penalty from Paterson.

The early feel-good mood among the home support continued when Richie Gray rose impressively to steal the first lineout of the day and there was a let-off when the erratic Mirco Bergamasco skewed a penalty wide.

However, Scotland's bad habit of conceding early tries continued as Masi capitalised on a slip from Joe Ansbro and brushed off a feeble Walker tackle to thunder through for a touchdown.

Bergamasco made a better fist of his second kick and was unlucky to see the penalty strike the outside of a post.

Scotland responded well, with Sean Lamont and Joe Ansbro making superb breaks before Simon Danielli was held up inches from the try-line.

Mallett blames discipline for defeat

Gray failed in a bid to bulldoze through the disciplined ranks of blue shirts and it was left to Paterson to knock over another penalty to edge the hosts back in front.

The lively Ansbro left the field with a taped up knee and Scotland lost their way for the remainder of the first half as Italy began to enjoy more of the ball.

And it was third time lucky for Bergamasco, who slotted over a straightforward penalty, given for Danielli not rolling away from a tackle.

Scotland were presented with a third penalty on the stroke of half time but Paterson, usually so reliable with the boot, could not split the posts from a difficult angle and the visitors went into the interval in front by two points.

Early in the second half, a slack pass from Alberto Sgarbi gave Lamont the chance to kick ahead and chase, but the centre, more often deployed on the wing, was left embarrassed as he was outdone for pace by hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini, who fell on the ball to save Italy.

Scotland continued to press and a huge cheer went up on 46 minutes when a run of eight Murrayfield games without a try was broken.

As Robinson's men laid siege to the line, Nathan Hines slipped away a deft pass and De Luca, on for Ansbro, gathered to squeeze over in the corner. Paterson again failed to find the target from out wide.

Scotland had Italy pinned back and a second try followed soon after when Walker collected a short pass from Paterson, glimpsed a gap, and powered through a series of flimsy challenges to score.

Normal service was resumed when Paterson added the extras, taking him to 400 Six Nations points.

Scotland's record-points scorer then added to his tally with a penalty right in front of the posts as the Italians lost their shape in defence.

Italy pressed gamely in the final 10 minutes but a promising move broke down just short of the line because of crossing and a fabulous tackle from Paterson brought Luke McLean to a halt when the replacement full-back looked sure to score.

Scotland: Paterson, Walker, Ansbro, S. Lamont, Danielli, Jackson, R. Lawson, Jacobsen, Ford, Cross, Gray, Kellock, Hines, Brown, Barclay.
De Luca for Ansbro (19), Parks for S. Lamont (78), Blair for R. Lawson (64), S. Lawson for Ford (64), Murray for Cross (64), Strokosch for Hines (54), Vernon for Brown (74).

Italy: Masi, Benvenuti, Canale, Sgarbi, Bergamasco, Burton, Semenzato, Perugini, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Del Fava, Geldenhuys, Zanni, Derbyshire, Parisse.
Replacements: McLean for Masi (32), Canavosio for Sgarbi (69), Orquera for Burton (59), Lo Cicero for Perugini (59), Festuccia for Ghiraldini (79), Bernabo for Del Fava (54), Barbieri for Derbyshire (59).

Att: 42,464

Ref: S Walsh (New Zealand).

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see also
Robinson praise for Scotland win
19 Mar 11 |  Scottish
Scotland v Italy stats
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union

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