SCOTLAND suffered their third defeat in the Six Nations Under-20 Championship after losing to Italy by their biggest ever margin in last night’s match in Pordenone, and now, with France at home and Wales away, the Scots face the prospect of a whitewash in the competition.
The Italians, coached by the former Italy captain and scrum-half Alessandro Troncon, showed the strength of their improving academy system and capitalised on mistakes by what is a Scotland Under-20 side containing a high proportion of young and inexperienced players.
“We simply didn’t play well,” said Scotland Under-20 head coach, Sean Lineen, adding: “All four Italian tries came from our possession. We didn’t control the game and we fell off too many tackles.
“Italy were bigger, better and faster and they had some very good players, but we made it too easy for them. They had a very good platform up front and their stand-off was an extremely good performer. And they played with a lot of passion. Like England, the Italians were very clinical when we made mistakes. Overall this is a step backwards after some good play against England.”
Italy made the perfect start, pressuring the Scots and scoring after two minutes with a try by full back Alexander Torlai and the conversion by stand-off Philip Buscema. A penalty goal by Melrose stand-off Ben Chalmers brought Scotland back into the game but that was quickly cancelled out by a similar effort from Buscema.
Then in a disastrous period for Scotland, the Italians virtually put the game out of reach with tries by scrum half Maicol Azzolini and Torlai, both converted by Buscema, for a 24-3 interval lead. The Scots, however, made a commendable recovery early in the second half with a try by skipper Tommy Spinks but their cause was weakened when back row Magnus Bradbury was sin-binned.
Scotland survived a pressure scrum on their own line but then produced an attack involving Richard Taylor, Bradbury, and replacements Sam Pecqueur and Ben Vellacot to win a five- metre line-out from which the Scots worked a rolling maul for Spinks to claim his second try. But a penalty by Buscema and a try by replacement centre Matteo Gasparini gave Italy a convincing victory.
Scorers: Italy Under-20: Tries: Torlai (2), Azzolini, Gasparini. Cons: Buscama (3). Pens: Buscama (2). Scotland Under-20: Tries: Spinks (2). Pen: Chalmers.
Italy Under-20: A Torlai; G Di Giulio, G De Santis, G Manganiello, L Bruno; F Buscema, M Azzolini; D Appiah, M Silva, S Ferrari, F Scalvi, R Michieletto, M Lazzaroni, S Negri, F Ruzza. Subs: A Daniele, P Buonfiglio, C Traore, D Zanetti, M Archetti, S Parisotto, M Gasparini.
Scotland Under-20: R Young; J Farndale, B Hutchison, R Taylor, D Hoyland; B Chalmers, M McAndrew; J Cosgrove, S James, P Cringle, A Cramond, G Young, L Carmichael, T Spinks, M Bradbury. Subs used: J Malcolm, D Rae, B Richardson, B Vellacot, G Horne, S Pecqueur
Referee: L Marsha (France).