By Gary Heatly
Head Coach Bryan Easson admits the performance was “not good enough” after the defeat to Italy left Scotland’s search for a home win in the Women’s Six Nations ongoing.
This 41-20 loss means the Scots have not been victorious on hom turf in this event since March 2017 when they defeated the same opposition at Broadwood.
This Pool A defeat leaves Easson’s side to now host Wales in the fifth/sixth play-off next Saturday.
“I am really disappointed, if I am honest the performance was not good enough,” Easson said.
“We talked about coming out the traps fast, but we got off to a poor start and let in a try right before half-time which left us struggling.
“We spoke at half-time about trying to be tighter – and then we gave away another soft try straight after half-time. These are hellish times to give tries away.
“Our best defensive set actually came in the 76th minute. For me, that’s just not good enough to wait that long into the game.
“I was surprised by how sloppy our start to the game was. I thought we had learned lessons from the England game, but the first 20 minutes just weren’t good enough.
“We have to use the lessons from this to move forward.”
Italy got off to a purposeful start and took the lead in the seventh minute when centre Beatrice Rigoni barged her way over. Fellow centre Michela Sillari converted.
Two minutes later they added a second try, Captain Manuela Furlan bagging the well-worked unconverted score.
The home side were struggling to get a foothold in the first quarter with the lineout misfiring and handling errors commonplace.
They did get themselves on the scoreboard in the 23rd minute when a good driving maul put hooker Lana Skeldon over for a try. Skipper Helen Nelson converted and it was 12-7.
Scotland still were not finding their top form, but their scrum started to function better as the half hour came and went which got them a bit of front foot ball.
In the 39th minute Nelson kicked a penalty, but Scotland did not deal with the resultant restart well and, in first half injury time, Italy scored a crucial third try.
It came through back-row Ilaria Arrighetti and with Sillari converting it was 19-10 at the break.
If that was a big blow, then Italy’s fourth try after half-time was a hammer blow.
A great break by scrum-half Sara Barattin stretched the defence and eventually full-back Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi scored an unconverted try.
Scotland knew they had to get the next score to give themselves any chance.
And they did when Nelson kicked another penalty in the 46th minute.
The Italians did not let that phase them though and they were still playing the better rugby, leading to try number five in the 58th minute through winger Furlan.
Coreen Grant then came on for a Scotland debut before, with 12 minutes to go, Italy’s sixth try came through Player of the Match Rigoni.
Evie Wills was next on for her first Scotland appearance before second-row Emma Wassell scored a try converted by Nelson.
Furlan’s hat-trick try – converted by Sillari – put the icing on the cake for Italy.
Scotland: Tries: Skeldon (23), Wassell (74). Pens: Nelson 2 (39, 46). Cons: Nelson (23, 74).
Italy: Tries: Rigoni (7, 68), Furlan (9, 58, 79), Arrighetti (40), Ostuni Minuzzi (42). Cons: Sillari 3 (7, 40, 79).
Scotland: C Rollie; L Musgrove, L Thomson, H Nelson (C), M Gaffney; S Law, M McDonald; L Bartlett, L Skeldon, M Kennedy, E Wassell, L McMillan, E Gallagher, R McLachlan, S Cattigan. Subs: J Rettie, L Cockburn, P Muzambe, C Belisle, N Howat, J Maxwell, E Wills, C Grant.
Italy: V Ostuni Minuzzi; M Furlan (C), M Sillari, B Rigoni, M Magatti; V Madia, S Barattin; E Skofca, M Bettoni, L Gai, V Fedrighi, G Duca, I Arrighetti, F Sgorbini, E Giordano. Subs: L Cammarano, G Maris, M Merlo, S Tounesi, I Locatelli, B Veronese, S Stefan, A Muzzo.
N O’Donnell (England).
Thanks to Rugby People for the main images