Source: Giorgio Perottino - World Rugby via Getty Images

Italy make Hay – Rugby World Cup European Qualifiers

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This was the first of three sessions of double internationals to decide who goes through to the World Cup next year.

Italy v Scotland

The Azzurre began as they did against England in the Six Nations, dominating most phases of play. inside a minute Scotland were pinged for holding on. The well-controlled rolling maul that followed gave Giada Franco the opening try.

Scotland responded with a threatening attack, but when offered a penalty, opted for three points rather than a more aggressive kick to the corner. Helen Nelson obliged. (7-3)

From then on the Italians showed they are the team to beat in this 4-way competition. The ball was moved at pace through forwards and backs, and Veronica Madia at No 10 showed how far her game has developed with sensible choices of pass, kick and run.

Once again Scotland were their own worst enemies. Prime line-out possession was squandered through inaccurate throws, and the midfield hardly ever gave their speedy back-3 space for manoeuvre.

Maria Magatti finished a lovely handling move to go over in the corner. When another Scottish line-out went wrong, Sara Barattin, closing on her 100th cap, showed pace to finish an immediate riposte. (19-3)

Once more Scotland opted for a kick at goal – from further out this time – which Nelson potted; but before the break Illaria Arrighetti picked a wonderful line to take a clever pass from Madia and gallop over.

Half-time 24-6

Scotland did better after the turn-round by committing to rucks and slowing Italian possession. But they still found it hard retaining possession. Either the pack would allow the opposition to prevent quick release, or the backs would lie so flat that they were quite unable to set their flyers free.

You could forgive the Azzurre for easing off a shade. Franco and Melissa Bettoni were hauled off early to save them for another day, but after a quarter of an hour they exploited another lost Scottish ball to compose an exquisite move completed by Michela Sillari, who as usual was the first-choice kicker.

On twenty minutes a water-break was called to remind us of the testing conditions.

For their last try Madia produced a fine grubber through massed defences for skipper Furlan to score the clincher.

With Francesca Sgorbini yellowed for a deliberate knock-on Scotland at last managed to offer Rhona Lloyd a scoring chance in the corner. Even then she had to fight hard to get the ball down. Sarah Law converted well from the edge.

Result 38-13



15 Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi
14 Manuela Furlan (captain)
13 Michaela Sillari
12 Beatrice Rigoni
11 Maria Magatti
10 Veronica Madia
9 Sara Barattin
1 Gaia Maris
2 Melissa Bettoni
3 Lucia Gai
4 Valeria Fedrighi
5 Giordana Duca
6 Illaria Arrighetti
7 Giada Franco
8 Elisa Giordano


16 Victoria Vecchini
17 Michela Merlo
18 Sara Seye
19 Isabella Locatelli
20 Francesca Sgorbini
21 Sofia Stefan
22 Alyssa D’Inca
23 Aura Muzzo


15. Chloe Rollie
14. Rhona Lloyd
13. Hannah Smith
12. Lisa Thomson
11. Megan Gaffney
10. Helen Nelson
9. Jenny Maxwell
1. Leah Bartlett
2. Lana Skeldon
3. Christine Belisle
4. Emma Wassell
5. Sarah Bonar
6. Rachel Malcolm (captain)
7. Louise McMillan
8. Jade Konkel


16. Molly Wright
17. Lisa Cockburn
18. Katie Dougan
19. Rachel McLachlan
20. Evie Gallagher
21. Mairi McDonald
22. Sarah Law
23. Liz Musgrove