Scots leave on a high
Scotland end World Cup warm-ups on winning note
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 22/08/11 1:26pm
Mike Blair clebrates his 52nd minute try
Murrayfield celebrated on Saturday as Scotland gave their home fans a 23-12 victory over Italy in the last game before they head to the World Cup.
Edinburgh's iconic stadium provided the backdrop to tries from Alisdair Dickinson and Mike Blair, plus 13 points from the boot of Dan Parks against a determined Azzurri outfit, who also ran in two tries courtesy of Tommaso Benvenuti and Fabio Semenzato.
Greame Morrison, at inside centre, was Scotland's sole survivor from the starting XV that beat Ireland 10-6 a fortnight ago as Andy Robinson took a final look at his options before he names his World Cup Squad on Monday.
And, although the Scots lacked ruthlessness at times, the head coach can travel to New Zealand on a fairly positive note, although winger Nikki Walker's injury late in the game will be a concern.
Number 10 Dan Parks grabbed an early lead for the home side with a penalty in the second minute before, seven minutes later, Dickinson went in for Scotland's first.
Quick ball from Blair inside the Italian 22 found winger Max Evans, whose blistering break and offload set the prop up to charge in from close range. Parks added the extras to make it 10-0.
Italy struck back on 23 minutes with a fabulous try that saw wing Benvenuti sprint in from outside the Scottish 22 to finish a move that started way back on the visitors' try line.
A powerful scrum provided the platform for some superb attacking running and slick offloading from the Italians that took them deep into Scots territory before putting the winger through to race clear.
Bergamasco struck the conversion to close the gap to three points, but 13 minutes later the Italian fly-half missed the opportunity to level things up when he sent a penalty wide.
Parks however made no mistake with the last kick of the half when Italy were caught offside under their own sticks, slotting an easy three points to take the hosts into the break leading 13-7
Three minutes after the restart though, scrum-half Semenzato caught the Scottish defence fast asleep when he nipped into a gap and dived in for Italy's second, but Bergamasco failed to give the Italians the lead with his conversion.
Four minutes later Scotland struck back, when scrum-half Mike Blair charged down full-back Andrea Masi's clearance kick and chased the loose ball back over the line for the try.
Parks added the extras and four minutes later the fly-half slotted another three-pointer to make it 23-12 after Italy were pinged for coming in from the side.
Parks missed another penalty from wide on the right on 61 minutes and five minutes later his replacement Ruaridh Jackson missed with his first penalty attempt.
Scotland continued to push but saw some positive attacking moves fizzle out as they needlessly lost possession and as the game closed out Italy began to pressure.
But the hosts' defence held firm to seal a victory, marred only by the unfortunate injury to Walker, whose World Cup hopes look to have been shattered after he was stretchered off with just six minutes to go.