Six Nations, Italy also defeated by Scotland: Wooden spoon for the Azzurri
Italy closed the Six Nations with the wooden spoon, the fifth defeat in five matches - 26-14, 4 tries to 1 against Scotland in Edinburgh - and this time also the insult of a score weighed down by a stop-time try from the Highlander conceded just when Italy on 19-14 seemed very close - a metre, even less - to a draw or a possible victory. It was an opportunity to redeem a tournament that also played well - especially against France, England and Ireland - but which reaffirmed the limits of an Italy that without Capuozzo has lost the can opener, the switch, the fuse of imagination and danger in attack. The two victories dreamed of by President Innocenti were and remain a chimera, one can console oneself with good play, with some excellent individual tests - Zuliani, Fischetti… -, with an overall higher level than that of 2022, when to save the Capuozzo's inspiration in Cardiff had taken care of the budget; but it is a contentment with little. The updated count of Spoons is now 14 according to the current regulation (for which it is enough to finish last to 'win it') and 12 according to the ancient custom (which required zero wins).
It wasn't a good match, indeed a decidedly bad one, between two teams by now tired and undermined by heavy absences (for Italy Capuozzo and Menoncello last minute victims of gastroenteritis, for Scotland Finn Russell and Stuart Hogg). At the start of the second half, the Scots deluded themselves that they had won it, and they almost let it get away.
Above all, the Azzurri paid for the many mistakes, the inaccuracies, the balls lost or given away: starting from the first occasion, in the 6th minute, ending with the last play, that endless assault with Italy angrily forward, six free-kicks consecutive in our favor from the 69th minute onwards, yet unable to complete the last effort, despite a dive by Alessandro Garbisi, who took over from Fusco, which seemed decisive. An unconverted try would have meant a draw, a conversion meant victory. Instead, from the last scrum, in favor of Scotland due to a forward from Pettinelli projected against the lilac shirts of the hosts, the duo came out with Van Der Merwe and Kinghorn crossing the whole field, sealing the final score. Mockery, bitterness, whatever you want. But Italy must mourn its limits.
In the first half it was the first to go ahead thanks to a goal from Allan in the 8th minute. Again in the lead on 15', again with the foot of our full-back, after Van Der Merwe's bullying try (13'), for most of the first half Italy paid for the pressure from the Scots. The yellow card in Riccioni after a repeated collapse in the scrum cost us the second try, by Kinghorn, an excellent substitute for Russell, in the 31st minute, who set the score at 12-6 in the middle of the match. And in the 36th minute a forward from Ruzza had once again cut off the legs of the Azzurri's offensive.
The third Scottish try, also by Kinghorn, in the 44th minute paved the way for the home team to win, who however complicated their lives by limiting themselves to controlling the match between long, confused phases, broken play, and new blue blunders - two passes wrong by Fusco, a couple of goalless kicks by Paolo Garbisi. But it was our number 10 who freed Allan's sprint, this time with a low shot kick, who crushed the only blue try close to the post. At 19-11 the conversion did not arrive, two minutes later instead Garbisi found the posts on a free-kick granted by Scotland and at 19-14 the game reopened. We needed a spark, an intuition, an extra gram of energy. It didn't arrive, and Kinghorn's mocking third try in the end had the flavor of both a mockery and a condemnation.