SCOTLAND’S women gave everything they had yesterday, but could not break down a stubborn Italian defence as they lost their 14th RBS 6 Nations match on the spin.
The home side knew this match in Dundee was crucial to kick-start their campaign after defeat to England. It was also important because it was likely to have a bearing on seedings for the World Cup qualifiers in April.
Prior to kick-off, as with the England match, Sarah Dixon had to pull-out injured, so Lauren Harris came in to the outside centre berth, with Lauren Steven brought in on the bench.
The late change did not seem to have too much of a detrimental effect as the Scots started well at Mayfield, getting on the front foot early on and taking the game to their visitors, who were on a high after last week’s win over France.
Highlights in the early stages for the Scots included some great work by prop Heather Lockhart and an interception by Lisa Ritchie that set up teenage back-row Jade Konkel for a decent run.
They could not get any points on the board though, and when Scotland were penalised for holding on to the ball on the ground, Italy stand-off Veronica Schiavon made no mistake to put her side 3-0 up. That was the way it stayed until the break and with the weather worsening and sleet sweeping across the pitch, the conditions were becoming harder for both sides.
As a result, the second half was a bit of a mudbath, with both packs slogging it out. The hosts started the half as they had the first, but again failed to make the breakthrough and they were then hit by a sucker punch. Scrum-half Sara Barattin managed to grab an unconverted try for the Italians and they were 8-0 up at that juncture, a lead that they held right until the final whistle despite even more Scottish pressure.
At the end of the match Scotland captain Susie Brown and her team-mates looked devastated to have given their all and ended up on the losing side, and their effort could not be faulted.
However, 14 straight defeats tells its own story and Scotland must start converting pressure when they face Ireland in a fortnight.
Ireland, though, caused a shock by beating England 25-0. Alison Miller grabbed a hat-trick of tries for the hosts at Ashbourne RFC in the first match that England have not scored any points in nearly a decade.
France defeated Wales 32-0 in Laon.