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Scotland snatch victory in Italy with last-gasp dropped goal

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The Canadian Press
2/22/2014 1:16:18 PM
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ROME -- Duncan Weir's last-gasp dropped goal lifted Scotland over Italy 21-20 at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday for its first victory in this year's Six Nations.

Italy was heading towards breaking its own duck with a fourth straight home victory over Scotland after lock Joshua Furno's first international try, which replacement flyhalf Luciano Orquera converted with less than 10 minutes remaining.

But defeat left Italy winless through three rounds, while Scotland earned some redemption in rebounding from a 20-0 home loss to England, regarded as one of its worst displays ever.

"It's all a big blur to be honest," Weir said. "We had a few chances to go for it. I was in the pocket and 'Cus' (Chris Cusiter) gave me a lovely ball and the rest is history.

"You just have to go back to basics, get your ball drop right, and I managed to execute it. It's a great feeling and I am delighted for the boys we have come away with the win. We can kick on from here now."

With captain Sergio Parisse and prop Martin Castrogiovanni marking their record 104th caps for Italy, they were in the forefront in giving their side a deserved 13-3 lead at halftime. All of its points came from former Scotland Under-20 flyhalf Tommaso Allan, including his second international try.

Scotland upped its intensity after the interval, and centre Alex Dunbar scored two tries with Weir converting the second. Captain Greg Laidlaw missed one kick but weighed in with two penalties.

"The quality of the match was disappointing," Italy coach Jacques Brunel said. "It was the worst Italy I've seen since I've been here. We gifted Scotland the chance to win through our mistakes.

"We're behind in regards to our ambitions. I want to understand why we were so bad. We have to react. Our defence was good up until a certain point. But then ... we didn't do our part, we can put on very different performances."

Scotland conceded a third scrum penalty in the 12th minute and from that the Azzurri went on the attack.

As Italy punched at the tryline, roared on by the vociferous crowd, Allan forced it over but Robert Barbieri's pass was forward, and Italy came away with a penalty.

Scotland's indiscipline continued to grow, with the visitors conceding five penalties in the opening quarter -- and that was to increase to 10 by halftime. However, Laidlaw evened the score with a penalty kick in the 23rd.

Scotland, which had one try in its last five matches in the Six Nations, had a great chance on the half hour when Weir broke in the Italian half but he cut inside instead of using Sean Lamont on his outside and slipped.

Allan put Italy back in front with another kick, and added his converted try in the final minute of the half, going over from Furno's pass after Sergio Parisse's charge off the back of the scrum.

Rather than deflate Scotland, the late score spurred the visitors to new heights in the new half. They put Italy under sustained pressure. The breach finally came in the 54th when Weir jolted the ball from Italy scrumhalf Edoardo Gori. Scotland spread it quick, and Dunbar sliced through and sped into the right corner to score Scotland's first try of the championship.

It took 12 more minutes to score its second. From a scrum on halfway, left wing Sean Lamont ran over Allan and Dunbar burst through. With Laidlaw off, Weir converted for Scotland's first lead at 18-13.

Italy looked to have rescued the win after a big run by left wing Leonardo Sarto up the middle, finished by Orquera and Parisse sending Furno over in the right corner for his first try in 16 appearances. Italy had a two-point lead.

But for the last few minutes, Scotland's forwards took control, busily working the phases, keeping the ball and making hard yards. With 19 seconds left, replacement scrumhalf Chris Cusiter fired the ball to Weir, who struck it sweet from 35 metres. He was already running back to his half in joy by the time the ball flew high inside the left post, the Stadio Olimpico stunned into silence.

Scotland celebrates (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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