Scotland sink scoreless Italy
ROME-- Italy ended their 2017 Six Nations campaign with another defeat as they failed to register a single point in a 29-0 loss at the hands of Scotland.
The visitors romped to victory with tries from Finn Russell, Matt Scott, Tim Visser and Tommy Seymour, sealing a bonus point win which left Italy with their second consecutive wooden spoon.
The result was a perfect send-off for departing Scotland coach Vern Cotter, who was visibly moved at the end of the game as he celebrated with his team. It was the glorious swansong that the New Zealander deserved, as his side won their third Six Nations game in the same campaign for the first time since 2006.
The first half was lacking in quality, as the Murrayfield rain made open, attacking rugby nigh on impossible. As a result, it was an error-strewn half dominated by long kicks and basic handling errors from both teams. There had been little between the sides before Finn Russell's try, after Scotland's first real spell of pressure, gave them the upper-hand.
However, Italy were not without chances of their own, but for a dreadful kicking display from out of sorts fly-half, Carlo Canna, they might have entered the break on relative parity with their hosts. Canna missed three straightforward kicks at goal as the Azzurri entered the tunnel trailing 0-15 after Matt Scott had added a second try for Scotland.
Italian head coach, Connor O'Shea, had spoken about the importance of remaining competitve for the full duration of the contest, dysmal second half performances have blighted this year's campaign, so he will have been pleased by their spell of dominance after the restart.
Unfortunately, Italy's lack of cutting edge and inability to convert basic opportunities will not have pleased the Irishman. Twice the Azzurri failed to put away a simple two-on-one overlap as they looked to take advantage of John Barclay's sin-binning. Yet again Italy were made to regret their wasted chances as Scotland regained dominance through tries from Visser and Seymour.
Perhaps the scoreline flattered the hosts, as Italy spent great parts of the game camped deep inside the Scottish half, however, the visitors had nothing to show for their territory, as they were made to pay for basic errors that are rarely seen at the top level.
After the final whistle it was all about Cotter, the home crowd showed their appreciation for all the work the Kiwi has put in since taking over in June 2014.
Meanwhile, it was another familiar dissapointing result for the Azzurri, as they became the first Six Nations side to travel to Murrayfield and not register a single point.
O'Shea expressed his dissapointment when talking to Italian media.
"To lose 29-0 is very hard", said the Irishman.
"The problem was not managing to convert into points all the opportunities we created. I remain convinced that the difference between us and Scotland is not so large, but we need to work on the confidence of the players and make enormous changes in the system of Italian rugby. It's a yound squad, the potential is there."
O'Shea seems dedicated to seeing out his project to the end and, on the surface, he remains optimistic. It is difficult to predict what will come next for his Italian side as they look to put this dissapointing tournament behind them.
One thing is for sure, there is much work to be done in the months ahead.