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Sunday, March 20, 2011

Scotland avoid last place as they beat Italy at Murrayfield

Scotland avoid last place as they beat Italy at Murrayfield

Scotland escaped the dreaded Wooden Spoon and got their first 2011 Six Nations win, beating Italy 21-8. Two tries were enough to see out the win for the home side, ending a barren run that saw them try-less at Murrayfield since November 2009.

Italy came to Scotland looking to build on their historic win over France last Saturday and things got off to an excellent start when the ever impressive full-back Andrea Masi scorched to the line for an early try.

Scotland hit back with a penalty from the immaculate Chris Paterson, and things remained closely fought for the remainder of the first half.

However, when Nick de Luca scored in the 47th minute, the momentum swung in the direction of the Scots. With Richie Gray dominating the line-outs and Sean Lamont terrorising the Italian defence, Scotland seemed to have found their rhythm; and when Nikki Walker touched down for his try, the win was sealed.

It was a well-earned victory for a Scottish team who started their campaign with a lot of promise, yet struggled to turn potential into points. Nevertheless, a satisfied Andy Robinson said that the win was well-deserved, yet did not mask a disappointing 2011 campaign:

"It was the result we were looking for - but it did not hide the fact that the championship has been a disappointment for us," said the Scotland coach.

"We had gone into the competition full of genuine hope and expectation in terms of challenging the other teams, but it didn't work out that way. We performed well in patches, but these patches were not long enough. Results at this level are determined in inches and until this match we did not win enough of these inches.

Italy coach Nick Mallett confessed that his side seemed tired following their win against France last weekend. "The guys ran out of steam a bit in the second half and that was a disappointment," he said.

"We should have put more points on the board in the first half when we had the bulk of possession and territory. When Scotland then began to put us under pressure, we did not respond the way I hoped we would," he added.

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