Pyr­gos try lights up the scrappy Scots in World Cup warm-up


A late Henry Pyr­gos try handed Scot­land a 16- 12 vic­tory over Italy in a World Cup warm- up that will keep both sides guess­ing as they con­tinue to build to­ward this fall’s show­piece in Eng­land.

Scot­land trav­eled to Turin hop­ing to build on the per­for­mance that left them on the wrong side of a 28-22 de­feat to Ire­land in Dublin last week.

But hav­ing made 11 changes to that side, coach Vern Cotter had al­ready set this game out as one in which to con­tinue ex­per­i­ment­ing.

Italy snatched vic­tory at Mur­ray­field in their last meet­ing, although Jac­ques Brunel’s side fin­ished the Six Na­tions with more ques­tions than an­swers about their World Cup po­ten­tial.

With cap­tain Ser­gio Parisse out with ill­ness, Fiji-born Sa­muela Vu­nisa stepped into the No. 8 po­si­tion with Quintin Gelden­huys tak­ing the cap­tain’s arm­band.

Fel­low vet­er­ans Leonardo Ghi­ral­dini, Michele Rizzo and Martin Castrogiovanni did not ap­pear un­til the 50th minute.

It was a scrappy, ner­vous af­fair played in per­fect sum­mer con­di­tions and be­fore for­mer Scot­land un­der-20 star Tom­maso Allan kicked a penalty on the stroke of half-time to level the game 9-9, the hosts briefly showed some at­tack­ing prom­ise.

Yet Scot­land, dom­i­nated in pos­ses­sion in the open­ing half, cap­i­tal­ized on their rare chances af­ter the in­ter­val to come away from a bruis­ing en­counter with a win that Cotter says was cru­cial.

Scot­land had raced to a 6-0 lead thanks to a pair of early penal­ties from David Weir, while Italy cen­ter Gon­zalo Gar­cia missed an ef­fort from 40 me­ters out.

Gar­cia was on tar­get min­utes later from the half­way line fol­low­ing an in­fringe­ment at the maul, although Vu­nisa’s fail­ure to roll away at the ruck handed the visi­tors another penalty, with Weir duly oblig­ing from 40 me­ters out.

Scot­land Pushed

Italy may be known for their strong scrum and solid de­fense, but in the ab­sence of Parisse the Az­zurri had Scot­land pushed to the lim­its in de­fense prior to the in­ter­val, be­fore Allan kicked over to level mo­ments later.

Wing Rory Hughes came within inches of end­ing the Scots’ quest for a try when he pow­ered down­field to get a snatch at a clear­ing kick, only to see the ball slip from his grasp.

Scot­land could have gone ahead on the hour af­ter be­ing awarded a penalty when Vu­nisa en­tered another ruck from the side, but Weir’s ef­fort from the right touch­line was just wide.

In­stead, it was the hosts who pulled three points in front min­utes later when Allan kicked over a penalty from 40 me­ters out af­ter a Scot­tish in­fringe­ment at a ruck.

Both sides made a se­ries of changes and Scot­land came close to the open­ing try when Peter Horne set off on a mazy run, only to be hauled down in­side Italy’s 22-me­ter line by Luke McLean.

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