Azzurri claim precious win
Toothless Scots finish up with unwanted wooden spoon in Rome
By Simon Dilger. Last Updated: 17/03/12 4:10pm
Scotland suffered their first Six Nations whitewash since 2004 with a 13-6 defeat at the hands of Italy in Rome on Saturday.
Giovanbattista Venditti scored the only try of the game in a scrappy affair at the Stadio Olimpico to give the Italians their only win of the 2012 tournament.
A pair of penalties from fly-half Grieg Laidlaw were all that Scotland could muster in reply, in what was a fair reflection of a side that never really posed a serious threat to their hosts on the day.
With his RBS Six Nations campaign in tatters and the humiliation of carrying the wooden spoon back to Edinburgh, Andy Robinson will be facing serious questions over his future as Scottish Rugby looks to rebuild the nation's pride and reputation.
Mirco Bergamasco had opened the scoring for Italy with a penalty on 11 minutes after Scotland were caught entering a ruck from the side.
Then, 12 minutes later, the Italian winger missed the opportunity to extend the Azzurri lead, sending another penalty attempt wide of the uprights.
Scotland were handed the chance to level the scores with four minutes to go to the break when the home side infringed at the ruck.
Greg Laidlaw duly slotted the penalty over to make it 3-3, but Scotland soon found themselves in trouble when Nic de Luca was sin-binned for a deliberate knock down inside the final minute of the half.
Bergamasco, though, was unable to find the target for the second time, leaving the sides tied at three apiece after a forgettable opening period.
Scotland began the second half a man down and it took Italy less than three minutes to make them pay as they immediately put the visitors under pressure.
The Italians worked themselves into good field position and when the ball was fired out left from a ruck 10 metres out in front of the posts, Venditti skipped through the Scottish defence to touch down.
Kirs Burton added the extras to take his side into double figures, though almost immediately Scotland had a chance to close the gap by three after another Italian infringement at the ruck.
Laidlaw, however, missed the kick from a difficult angle and 10 minutes later Scotland found themselves back down to 14 men when Jim Hamilton became their second yellow card after playing Quintin Geldenhuys in the air at a line-out.
Laidlaw made amends on the hour mark slotting a penalty to make it 6-10 when Italy were pinged at the line out.
And six minutes later the Italians went a man down themselves when Alessandro Zanni was given a 10-minute break for playing the ball on the ground at a ruck.
Trailing by just four as the game entered its final 10 minutes, Scotland pushed for that elusive try in a desperate attempt to avoid the humiliation of a winless campaign.
But with just three minutes to go Burton shattered Scottish hearts with an audacious drop goal that put Italy 13-6 up, leaving the visitors needing a converted try to win.
It wasn't to be though for Scotland, who had failed to fire all afternoon, and with doubts about his future looming ever larger, Robinson must now try to make some sense of the wreckage of his side's season to forget.