Match report: Italy 10-17 Scotland

Match report: Italy 10-17 Scotland

A five minute two-try flurry in the second half secured Scotland Women a historic first win on Italian soil in the Six Nations, winning 17-10 to set up an all-important clash with Ireland next week for a place in WXV1 and the 2025 Rugby World Cup.

The opening exchanges between the two sides were somewhat frantic with neither Scotland or Italy quite able to capitalise on their phases with ball in hand.

Scotland however seemed to pose the greater threat, quickly making their way into Italian territory. After a high tackle was put in on Scotland, the referee gave the penalty and Lisa Thomson sent the ball to touch for a line out on the 15m line. Scotland quickly got the rolling maul operating but the Azzurri were penalised for binding illegally and Scotland had to start again. With Italy more attune to the operation, Rachel Malcolm lost the ball forward and Italy earned themselves a scrum.

There continued to be a great deal of back and forth between the sides but in the 23rd minute, things began to look brighter for the visitors when Alex Stewart put her hand up to disrupt Italy’s platform inside Scotland’s 22 with a fantastic turnover.

Scotland worked hard to switch from defence to attack. Making her first start of the Guinnees Six Nations campaign, winger Francesca McGhie showed exactly what she was capable of making ground for the Scots, whipping her way down left field. Italy’s defence was stretched but Italian prop Sara Seye got herself over the ball to win it back for Italy.

Both sides were scoreless as the clock ran into the final ten minutes of the half, but the tides were soon to change when 50th capper, Rhona Lloyd was taken into touch on the half-way line to gift the Italians a lineout. Italy’s work was simple but effective – winning the ball at the line out, Ilaria Arrighetti powered straight down the pitch, offloading to Alyssa D’Inca, who put her foot on the gas to score in the right corner. Beattrice Rigoni added the extras with ease to give Italy seven points in minute 32 of the match.

A cool and calm Scotland had a response, ofc course. Despite Italy gathering the kick off, with the ball available, Lana Skeldon jumps on it with speed and earns with it a penalty. Thomson sent the ball into the left corner for a line out. The towering Eva Donaldson executed her job in the air perfectly, gifting Skeldon to ball as the forwards came together for a powerful driving maul. Within minutes of the Italian try, Scotland had one of their own as Skeldon dotted down for her 16th Scotland try. Helen Nelson’s ice cool composure allowed Scotland to draw with just a few minutes left on the clock.

A forward pass from Scotland on the half-way line in the dying minutes of play saw referee Maggie Cogger-Orr blow her whistle to call half-time. 

Half-time: Italy 7-7 Scotland

The second-half started in a similar fashion to that of the first, with mistakes from both sides, which meant neither were quite able to convert their efforts into getting close to points.However, in minute 50, things were a little to close for comfort when a box kick from Caity Mattinson inside Scotland’ 22 was charged down and Italy looked to pounce. Fortunately, speedster Rollie ws quicker, securing the ball and allowing Mattinson to find touch on a second attempt.

Shortly after, Elliann Clarke and Leah Bartlett joined the field to replace Molly Wright and Christine Belisle, and they had an instant impact in the scrum earning a penalty to allow Thomson to send a kick into Italy’s half.

The lineout functioned well and Scotland started one of their trademark rolling mauls before the ball was released to Mattinson, and Scotland started to march their way deeper into Italian ground, with backs and forwards each playing their park. However just as Scotland broke across the 15 metre line, the referee blew the whistle for a penalty with Clarke deemed to be holding on.

Another set of changes followed with Mairi McDonald joining the field to replace Mattinson and Rachel McLachlan replaced Alex Stewart.

With an injection of both fresh legs and greater more momentum, Scotland were ready to switch things up a gear and strike. Scotland worked hard to create yet another turnover before reaching Thomson, who hammered the ball up into the Italian 22. The flying Scot, Lloyd charged up to dislodge the ball from her opposite player, and Emma Orr sprang into action, grabbing the ball and shooting across the try line to take Scotland into the lead. Nelson’s conversion skimmed the posts. 

Soon after, Scotland scored a third try after a remarkable 17 phases. Starting in the left corner, the ball was worked all the way out to the right, and then back to the left where Rollie stepped inside the defender, fended off another and dived over the line.

Rigoni narrowed the deficit with a kick through the sticks with seven minutes left after Scotland were penalised for not rolling just outside their 22. Italy continued to press for the converted try that would bring them level, and with just 18 seconds left Chloe Rollie was yellow carded for a dangerous cleanout at a ruck. Having been sent for review, it was later upgraded to a red card after the conclusion of the match. The resulting penalty was kicked into Scotland’s 22, but the ball went forward and history was secured by a Scotland Women group who are making a good habit of doing what hasn’t been done before.

Full-time: Italy 10 – 17 Scotland

Scotland Women: 15. Chloe Rollie 14. Rhona Lloyd 13. Emma Orr 12. Lisa Thomson 11. Francesca McGhie 10. Helen Nelson (vice-captain) 9. Caity Mattinson 1. Molly Wright 2. Lana Skeldon 3. Christine Belisle 4. Eva Donaldson 5. Louise McMillan 6. Rachel Malcolm (captain) 7. Alex Stewart 8. Evie Gallagher

Replacements: 16. Elis Martin (for Skeldon, 78 mins) 17. Leah Bartlett (for Wright, 52 mins) 18. Elliann Clarke (for Belisle, 52 mins) 19. Fiona McIntosh (For Donaldson, 74 mins) 20. Rachel McLachlan (for Stewart, 62 mins) 21. Mairi McDonald (for Mattinson, 59 mins) 22. Meryl Smith 23. Coreen Grant

Italy: 15. ⁠Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi 14. ⁠Aura Muzzo 13.⁠ Alyssa D’Incà 12. Beatrice Rigoni 11. ⁠Francesca Granzotto 10. ⁠Veronica Madia 9. ⁠Sofia Stefan 1. Silvia Turani 2. Vittoria Vecchini 3. ⁠Sara Seye 4.⁠ Sara Tounesi 5. ⁠Giordana Duca 6. Ilaria Arrighetti 7. Francesca Sgorbini⁠ 8. Elisa Giordano (captain)

Replacements: 16. Laura Gurioli 17. ⁠Gaia Maris 18. ⁠Lucia Gai 19. ⁠Valeria Fedrighi 20. Isabella Locatelli 21. Beatrice Veronese 22. Sara Mannini 23. Beatrice Capomaggi

Referee: Maggie Cogger-Orr
Assistant Referees: Natasha Ganley & Amber Stamp-Dunstan

Player of the Match: Lana Skeldon (Scotland)

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