Italy 13 Scotland 6: Robinson's try-shy Scots condemned to wooden spoon
15:48 GMT, 17 March 2012
Scotland suffered the ignominy an RBS 6 Nations whitewash and the wooden spoon after Italy inflicted a seventh successive defeat on Andy Robinson's side in Rome.
In what could be the final game for head coach Robinson, Scotland contributed significantly to their own downfall in an error-strewn display at the Stadio Olimpico as Nick De Luca and Jim Hamilton were sin-binned.
Mirco Bergamasco kicked a penalty, Giovanbattista Venditti crossed for a converted try in De Luca's absence and Kristopher Burton added a drop goal after 77 minutes as Italy triumphed.
Celebration: Giovambattista Venditti celebrates after touching down
Italy: A Masi; G Venditti, T Benvenuti, G Canale, M Bergamasco; K Burton, E Gori; A Lo Cicero, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami, A Zanni, R Barbieri, S Parisse (capt).
Replacements: T D'Apice, L Cittadini, J Furno, S Favaro, M Vosawai, T Botes, G Toniolatti.
Scotland: S Hogg; M Evans, N De Luca, G Morrison, S Lamont; G Laidlaw, M Blair; A Jacobsen, R Ford (capt), G Cross, R Gray, J Hamilton, J Barclay, R Rennie, D Denton.
Replacements: S Lawson, E Murray, A Kellock, R Vernon, C Cusiter, R Jackson, J Cuthbert.
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland).
Alessandro Zanni was shown a yellow
card in the final quarter, but Scotland could not capitalise on their
numerical advantage and their only points in an incoherent and
indisciplined performance came through two Greig Laidlaw penalties.
Robinson is contracted until the 2015
World Cup but may believe he has taken Scotland as far as possible
following two wins in 15 Six Nations matches – each coming on the final
weekend of the championship in the past two years – and the worst
sequence of results since 1998.
There were few positives the former
Bath and England boss could grasp at as his side remained without a
victory since the September 14 defeat of Georgia at a World Cup Scotland
exited from the group stages for the first time.
Scotland and Italy have been
perennial rivals to avoid the wooden spoon and if ever there was an
advert for relegation from the Six Nations – with World Cup sides
Georgia, Russia and Romania among those vying for inclusion – this was
Dejection: Ross Ford and Mike Blair show the pain of defeat
Robinson kept faith with the players
who had featured in the four previous losses and made two enforced
changes following the 32-14 defeat to Ireland – the second after an
injury in the warm-up for the second straight week. De Luca, a late
withdrawal in Dublin, returned at centre for the concussed Lee Jones,
with loosehead prop Allan Jacobsen missing out on his 65th cap after
suffering an injury in the moments before kick-off.
Glasgow Warriors' Jon Welsh made his
debut in place of Scotland's most-capped prop and against revered
Leicester tighthead Martin Castrogiovanni, who was one of seven changes
for the Azzurri and finished as man of the match.
Stopped in his tracks: Richie Gray halts Martin Castrogiovanni's run
Italy opened with purpose, spreading
the ball wide, but Scotland began nervously with numerous errors and the
concession of penalties.
Castrogiovanni, returning from a rib
injury, set to work on Welsh early on, helping Italy establish forward
momentum and Bergamasco kicked a penalty after lock Hamilton strayed
The Italy wing missed a more
straightforward attempt at goal after David Denton was isolated breaking
off a scrum and held on to concede a penalty, which was marched 10
metres further forward by referee Alain Rolland after dissent from the
John Barclay foiled a Burton drop-goal attempt before, after 35 minutes, Scotland made forward progress.
Scotland's scrum advanced from
halfway and the hosts crumbled, with Laidlaw kicking the visitors level
from just inside the Italy half.
High ball: Sergio Parisse and Stuart Hogg challenge
A Richie Gray knock-on at the restart
immediately handed Italy possession and De Luca was sin-binned for
kicking the ball out of scrum-half Edoardo Gori's hand.
Scotland, though, were handed a reprieve as Bergamasco again failed to strike his kick cleanly.
The hosts spread the ball right and left looking for an opening early in
the second period and Venditti found one, bursting through a Stuart
Hogg tackle to touch down with Burton converting.
Laidlaw was off-target with a
Scotland penalty from the touchline after Italy turned the ball over at
the restart and De Luca returned after seven points were conceded in his
Tighthead Euan Murray was introduced
for Geoff Cross and Gray made way for Alastair Kellock, but as soon as
the former captain was introduced, Hamilton was sent to the sin-bin for
an indiscretion at the line-out.
Kellock was pulled down by Zanni at a line-out, allowing Laidlaw to cut the deficit to four points with 20 minutes remaining.
Party time: Castrogiovanni (left) celebrates as Kristopher Burton salutes his drop goal with Giulio Toniolatti
As Hamilton returned, he swapped places with flanker Zanni, who was shown a yellow card for going off his feet at the ruck.
Robinson made a late change in an effort to turn the momentum in Scotland's favour, introducing Ruaridh Jackson for Laidlaw.
But fly-half Jackson could only watch
as Scotland's struggles continued and Burton kicked the hosts seven
points ahead with three minutes remaining.
Scotland required a converted try to
salvage a draw but again lost possession to allow Italy to see out the
final seconds and celebrate their first win at the Stadio Olimpico.