Italrugby, knockout with Scotland in Edinburgh

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Scotland-Italy 25-13

Scotland beat Italy 25-13 in Edinburgh in the first test match of the Summer Nations Series, after a very tight match, in some ways a photocopy of the one seen in March in the Six Nations. However, Kieran Crowley received very positive signs from many of the boys he had counted on for this match, although regret remains for a match that seemed within the Azzurri’s reach. Deciding factors were Graham’s double and the outstanding performance of Ben Healy, awarded player of the match. Italy scored with Monty Ioane and the foot of Tommaso Allan.

Italy got off to a strong start: Morisi pierced the Scottish defense several times, Bruno was very active and managed to recycle a dirty ball for Page-Relo, who put the opponent’s rearguard in trouble with a tricky kick, well closed by Smith. After 5 minutes of scrambling, Scotland responded, first wasting a scrum at the 5-meter mark by conceding a free kick, but then taking advantage of an advancing maul to lead the way: Healy saw the blue left corner uncovered and perfectly funneled the ball for Graham’s run, who scored the first try of the match.

Crowley’s team holds the field well, does not concede any more chances to the National Thistle team, and in the 23rd minute, after an excellent maul defense, they get back into the attack: Zuliani chases away a loose ball and starts a speed contest with the Scottish three-quarters. Smith arrives first, but the Benetton flanker himself snatches the ball out of his hands, Allan arrives and with another kick sends the ball into the in-goal area and almost manages to dunk it. Italy, however, remains on the attack and earns a free kick, Allan hits the posts for 5-3.

The first points of the match galvanize the Azzurri, who gradually become masters of the field and take the initiative away from Scotland. Crowley’s team is able to move the ball more than in the first half, Ioane and Bruno often switch positions and come into the middle of the field to get the ball, taking away Scotland’s points of reference. Pani overcomes the emotion of the debut and comes on as an added distributor, while the hosts – while making few mistakes – suffer the Italian initiative. In the final, the Azzurri scrum towered, with Pietro Ceccarelli twice in a row putting Sutherland in trouble: in the second case, a free kick came just behind the 10-meter line. Despite the angled position, Allan opted for the posts and found the points of the Azzurri overtaking: the first half ended 5-6.

At the start of the second half, Scotland kicks into gear and immediately makes itself dangerous, giving up the posts from a favorable position to play fast, but Turner sensationally loses the oval just after beating. In the 48th minute Darge and his teammates do not repeat the mistake, Healy squares and puts his side back ahead 8-6. Crowley rearranges the backline with Alessandro Garbisi coming in for Bruno, Page-Relo moving to fullback and Pani to the wing.

Scotland, as in the first half, finds Italy uncovered at the back and Harris forces Page-Relo to clear from his goal area under pressure. Graham knocks back his kick and Pani pats it away, but is forced to carry the ball out and concede a scrum at the 5. The Azzurri hold, but Price finds the opening for Graham’s corner change, which pierces the Italian defense and scores the 15-6 goal.

Italy takes the blow, suffers in the orderly scrum and takes a while to find itself. Then, however, it responds with a splendid sequence: quick and clean meeting points, Mori finds two excellent advances and at the right moment Allan spreads well on Ioane, who marks in the flag. The blue number also finds the conversion from the sideline for 15-13. Crowley inserts Giacomo Da Re, who lines up opening, with Allan going fullback.

The Italian scrum, which had taken the upper hand in the first half, struggles much more in the second half, and in the 73rd minute Healy takes advantage to convert a free kick earned by his front line into points: 18-13. With one minute to go, Scotland closed out the game: again an advancing scrum and again a great kick by Healy that brought his teammates back into the 22. Redpath absorbed the direct opponent and opened up on Bayliss, who skipped past Ioane and scored the final 25-13 goal.

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