Match Report – Italy 31 – 29 Scotland


Megan Wellens

Digital Sports Journalist @MegWellensX

Italy scored tries through Ignacio Brex, Louis Lynagh, Stephen Varney on their way to the 31-29 win; Zander Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, Pierre Schoeman, and Sam Skinner scored tries for Scotland; Their hopes of a Six Nations decider vs Ireland in the final weekend are now over

Last Updated: 09/03/24 4:30pm

Stephen Varney of Italy celebrates scoring his team's third try with team-mate Danilo Fischetti

Stephen Varney of Italy celebrates scoring his team’s third try with team-mate Danilo Fischetti

Italy secured their first home Six Nations victory in 11 years with a hard-fought 31-29 comeback victory over Scotland at the Stadio Olimpico.

An attack-filled first 40 saw Scotland try to take control of the match, tries from Zander Fagerson, Kyle Steyn, and Pierre Schoeman, plus three efforts from Finn Russell’s boot giving them the advantage.

However, Italy hit back with an off-the-cuff try from Ignacio Brex, plus three conversions from Paolo Garbisi and another from Martin Page-Relo as they went in at half-time trailing 22-16.

The second half saw an Italy fightback ensue, a Louis Lynagh try on debut plus a converted Stephen Varney effort giving the home outfit a 28-22 lead with 20 minutes to hold out.

Italy now have a win and a draw in what could be a Six Nations to remember for them

Italy now have a win and a draw in what could be a Six Nations to remember for them

With victory within touching distance, the Stadio Olimpico crowd ramped up and a Garbisi penalty gave Italy a two-score lead but Scotland came once again through Sam Skinner, Russell adding the extras to bring the score to 31-29 with just two minutes to play.

Scotland put together over 20 phases but Italy defended valiantly, the turnover coming to secure one of their biggest Six Nations wins.

It is a huge victory for Italy, their last home win coming over 10 years ago as they claimed a 22-15 victory over Ireland in the 2013 tournament.

Stadio Olimpico erupts as Italy show strength in comeback win

It was a breathless first 20 minutes for both sides, Italy applying immediate pressure and gaining a penalty from the first breakdown allowing Garbisi to give his side a 3-0 lead within the space of two minutes.

But it wasn’t long until Scotland hit back, Fagerson powering over after 18 phases of possession, Steyn then crossing once again six minutes later as Russell’s two conversions gave his side a 14-3 advantage.

Zander Fagerson was the first try scorer on the board at the Stadio Olimpico

Zander Fagerson was the first try scorer on the board at the Stadio Olimpico

Only three minutes later Italy took their chance to hit back, Brex picking up the chip over the top and diving over, bringing the score to 14-10 after just 20 minutes.

Scotland then took hold of the momentum and made it count, a Russell penalty extending their lead before he found a brilliant 50:22 which allowed Schoeman to burrow over from close range as the visitors put themselves 22-10 in front.

Kyle Steyn went over early doors for Scotland as they took control early in the first half

Kyle Steyn went over early doors for Scotland as they took control early in the first half

Garbisi found three more points from his boot as Page-Relo then took over kicking duties and claimed three more, leaving the match firmly poised at 22-16 at half-time.

With all to play for in the second 40, Scotland thought they had struck straight after half-time to secure the bonus-point but it was struck off due to blocking in the build-up. Italy immediately hit back, Lynagh chasing the grubber kick well to dive over on debut.

Italy: Tries: Ignacio Brex (15), Louis Lynagh (44), Stephen Varney (47); Conversions: Paolo Garbisi (1, 16, 34, 48, 72), Martin Page-Relo (38)

Scotland: Tries: Zander Fagerson (6), Kyle Steyn (12), Pierre Schoeman (28), Sam Skinner (78) Conversions: Finn Russell (7, 13, 24, 79)

However, a poor missed conversion from Garbisi left the hosts trailing 22-21 and wondering if they had let their chance at taking a lead slip.

With the atmosphere palpable and tension through the roof, Italy used the moment to their advantage and after building the pressure, replacement scrum-half Varney burrowed over to give his side a crucial lead, Garbisi this time adding the extras as they went 28-22 in front.

With 20 minutes to hold out for a huge victory the Stadio Olimpico increased the volume once again and a key penalty came in the 71st minute as Scotland were pinned for being offside, Garbisi obliging to extend the lead to 31-22.

Scotland kept coming as chaos ensued, a converted Skinner trying reducing the deficit to 31-29 and giving the visitors hope but Italy stood up gallantly in defence, keeping out 20 phases and forcing the turnover for a sensational victory.

Brex: It is time for Italy to celebrate!

Player of the match Nacho Brex on ITV Sport…

“It’s history. We are really happy. We worked so hard. Maybe we’ll have something special after. We need to prepare for the next game, but now we need to celebrate.

“We talked a lot of times about passion and I think we showed the world we had the passion, even in the last few minutes. Even when you are tired it is not a problem. It’s in our blood. We showed the people that we have the passion.

“It means a lot for everyone. It means a lot for the movement of Italian rugby. We are so happy.

“The people need to believe in us and [the crowd] showed us they are believing in us. We are so happy and we hope to have this stadium full every game.”

What’s next?

Scotland face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in the final round of the championship on Saturday, March 16 (4.45pm kick-off GMT).

Italy travel to play Wales in Cardiff on Saturday, March 16 (2.15pm kick-off GMT) for their final Test of the 2024 championship.

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