Scotland beat plucky Italy to end Six Nations losing streak


Greig Laidlaw's trusty boot helped Scotland end a nine-match losing streak in the Six Nations as they held off a spirited Italy to clinch a 36-20 victory.

Scotland coach Vern Cotter had never won a match in the tournament, but scrum-half Laidlaw kicked 21 points in a fine showing to end that run at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday.

Italy were overrun in the first half and tries from John Barclay and John Hardie were just reward for Scotland's efforts.

But Leonardo Ghiraldini's score before the break kept Italy in it and Marco Fuser's first international try in the second half left them needing just a converted score.

Italy were guilty of too many handling errors and indiscipline at the break down, though, and despite piling on the pressure, Laidlaw's accuracy and Tommy Seymour's late try ensured Scotland rebounded from narrow losses to England and Wales.

Kelly Haimona's early penalty put Italy on the scoreboard, but Scotland - who made a late alteration due to David Denton's groin injury - dominated the opening exchanges and scored the first try in the 10th minute.

Stuart Hogg's excellent jinking feet saw him evade two tackles on the left flank and his clever offload from the floor sent Barclay over.

Italy were all at sea defensively and Scotland went over the line again when Finn Russell carved through the middle and the ball was worked left for Hardie to scramble over the line.

Laidlaw's boot extended the lead to 17-3, but a sublime Italy move brought the hosts back into the game.

Michele Campagnaro made the initial break and clever running lines coupled with good work from Gonzalo Garcia, Sergio Parisse and David Odiete sent Ghiraldini over.

Laidlaw missed a kick at goal just before the break, but he and Haimona traded penalties early in the second half.

Scotland's strength at the scrum and break down meant Laidlaw continued to add cheap points, but when Russell went in to the sin bin for hands in the ruck Italy sensed opportunity.

And they quickly made the numerical advantage count. Edoardo Gori was held up just shy of the line and Fuser gathered to barge over to bring the score within six.

But more indiscipline at the break down allowed Laidlaw to stretch Scotland's lead once again.

Scotland lost WP Nel to the bin for deliberate knock on, but in the 77th minute the visitors broke quickly and Hogg's sublime flicked pass set Seymour free down the right and Laidlaw added the extras.