Italy's participation in the 2023 Six Nations ended with a 26-14 defeat in Scotland, the fifth out of as many matches. A tournament that the Azzurri had faced with high hopes and in which they showed undeniable growth but without being able to avoid yet another wooden spoon.
At Murrayfield, the national team stayed on until the end after building a possible second-half comeback, but the final rushes for a pass broke through the Scottish defense before the home side found a last-minute try through Kinghorn , star of the match with three tries and as many conversions.
"Scotland took advantage of their opportunities, we didn't succeed with ours - commented the blue coach, Kieran Crowley -. If we look at all five games,
we had our chances but we didn't realize them.
It's something we can build on."
And the progress of the match photographs what was expressed by the New Zealand coach.
After a first half of full territorial dominance but finishing ahead by only six points - 12-6, with two goals from Allan and tries from Van der Merwe and Kinghorn -, in the second half the home team first gave the impression of being able to close the game but then instead suffered the comeback of Italy which with Allan's try and Garbisi's placement brought it back to -5 (14-19).
The finale made the fans of Italy dream several times close to the big target, then came the joke: the blue forward 30 seconds from the end on the Scottish goal line, the home team's winning scrum and a lightning-fast restart for the 26th 14 final.
"We set out to continue on the path of gaining respect and credibility in this tournament,
I believe this has been done - Cowley continued -.
We have to increase the experience of a young group, which in the last eighteen months has seen over twenty newcomers and which needs to improve in detail.
With some episodes handled differently today we could be here talking about two, three victories in the tournament".
"Here we conceded nine penalties and one yellow card to Scotland in the first half, allowing them to keep us under pressure, putting a lot of energy into defending: it's one of the areas we need to improve on. Now we'll start working for the World Cup."
Even the captain, Michele Lamaro, confirmed what the coach said: "The accuracy of the execution and our individual skills are the areas where we must continue to work the most. Today we did incredible things at times, against a great Scotland, managing to to stay in the match until the end. We had ups and downs in the tournament - added the Benetton flanker - and at this level it is necessary to be more cynical and concrete".
"Italy deserved more from this tournament,
he played good rugby and put us under pressure," said Scotland captain Jamie Ritchie.
I'm happy we won it". Congratulations again to Italy, but the wooden spoon remains. The eighteenth for the Azzurri, in 24 participations