6N: Scotland beats Italy 29-27 with late Laidlaw penalty

By Associated Press 17 March 2018, 12:00AM

ROME (AP) — A Greig Laidlaw penalty with 84 seconds to go lifted Scotland over Italy 29-27 in the Six Nations on Saturday.

Italy, which had seen leads of 17-5 in the first half and 24-12 in the second disappear, was 27-26 up thanks to a Tommaso Allan penalty in the 75th minute.

But Scotland earned a penalty after Italy collapsed a maul, and Laidlaw struck the 37-meter kick just inside the left post to end his team's two-year drought away from home.

Scotland secured a third win in a campaign for only the third time since the competition expanded in 2000.

"We've got a long way to go to reach our potential," Scotland coach Gregor Townsend said. "Today we weren't playing a top-five team in the world but it was a team that asked us a lot of questions. That second-half response, that resilience, that togetherness, was great to see."

The Italians were whitewashed for the fourth time in five years. Their 17th straight defeat in the Six Nations matched France's record string from 1911-20, and captain Sergio Parisse suffered his 100th loss in his 134th test.

But coach Conor O'Shea wasn't downhearted.

"We're coming," he said. "Boy, we played some rugby out there against a team who have beaten Australia, beaten England, and were close to beating New Zealand.

"Did we not game manage? Yes, at times, you could say we didn't. The only way for some young players to learn is by being out there. Time at the crease you could say."

Italy contributed to a gripping contest by leading for long periods and scoring three tries, two to flyhalf Allan, who also nailed all five of his goalkicks for a personal tally of 22 points. Fullback Matteo Minozzi became the first Italian to score a try in four consecutive Six Nations matches.

"We finish with our heads held high," Parisse said in tears while holding his newborn son.

Scotland clawed its way back into the match with a last-quarter comeback from 24-12 down, with outside backs Sean Maitland and Stuart Hogg scoring tries after earlier ones by forwards Fraser Brown and John Barclay, but still needed a last kick at the death to edge home.

In a frantic start, Brown scored the first try on the end of a huge overlap.

Allan dummied, scooted through, and converted his try, then kicked a grubber for Minozzi to pouch and score and make it 17-5.

Barclay was driven over from a Scotland lineout but Italy began the new half still in charge. Flanker Sebastian Negri broke clean to the posts but Italian celebrations died when video review showed a knock on a long way back in the buildup.

The Italians were smiling again when flanker Jake Polledri, on debut, brushed aside Scotland No. 8 Ryan Wilson and put Allan in for a second try. Italy led 24-12 with a quarter to go, and looked good.

But Scotland, with Laidlaw replacing Finn Russell at flyhalf as in the comeback against France, started spreading the ball more and finding gaps.

A huge Laidlaw miss-out pass gave Maitland the space to beat his marker and score, and Hogg went clean through with nine minutes left to tie the score. Laidlaw's conversion put them two ahead.

Allan kicked Italy in front by a point and they were on the cusp of an eighth win over Scotland.

But Laidlaw's last-gasp winning kick was also not a surprise ending. Scotland beat the Italians with late kicks in 2006 on Chris Paterson's 78th-minute penalty, and in 2014 on Duncan Weir's 80th-minute dropped goal.

By Associated Press 17 March 2018, 12:00AM

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