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Saving the Best Till Last
Scotland Save The Style
Posted Mar 24, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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This ability to produce their best performance in the last match of the Six Nations seems to be catching for Scotland. Following their last gap win in Dublin last year, they once again came out with a great display to avoid the wooden spoon against Italy at Murrayfield. Even Andy Robinson was smiling by the end of the second half, and that’s saying something.
It will have come as a very pleasing relief to all the fans watching that the Scots were able to cross the line twice, the first time in an apparent 11 hours at 54 minutes that they have been able to score a try in a home game. Ironically enough, the scorer was one Nick de Luca: as Italian a name as you will find north of the border.
The Italians seemed to suffer somewhat for the expectations that were inevitably heaped upon them following their famous win against France last week, despite Coach Nick Mallett’s warning prior to the match that his team were still only ranked 12th in the World and there was no guarantee of a repeat. The fact that his side have now finished bottom of the tournament six times out of seven is a sobering reminder of this.
What actually appeared between the two sides was a good, old-fashioned physical battle in which both Andrea Masi and Joe Ansbro fail to reach the final whistle. Mallet and Robinson both spent more than their fair share of time pounding on the windows of their booths up in the stands, the former furious at the Italian hooker Ghiraldini’s consistent ability to outstrip the Scottish centre Sean Lamont. The Italian coach, for his part, acted out his own agonies as his team’s line-outs collapsed and gifted Gray and Kelloch the chance to steal the play.
Once Scotland got away, though, you really could see the confidence shining through them, throwing the ball around seeking further scores and finally managing to do so through Paterson following Walker’s ‘nearly’ attempt a few minutes earlier.
Both of these sides will have learnt important lessons from the match, but you can be sure that right now Murrayfield was gifted with the excuse to party.