Italy 27-29 Scotland: Gregor Townsend says win will help Scots develop

Tommy Seymour, Greig Laidlaw and Stuart Hogg after Scotland beat Italy
Greig Laidlaw, centre, kicked the decisive penalty as Scotland snatched victory in Rome

Gregor Townsend believes Scotland's comeback win over Italy will boost his players' belief for Tests to come.

Early in the second half in Rome, Scotland trailed by 12 points, but fought back to snatch a 29-27 victory thanks to Greig Laidlaw's late penalty.

Following home triumphs over France and England, the Scots finish their campaign with three wins from five.

"We didn't play our best, but we certainly upped our game and got the win," head coach Townsend said.

"That's going to put us in good stead, winning away from home, winning when we're behind, when we come up against the challenges over the next 12-18 months that we'll face.

Gregor Townsend oversees Scotland's warm-up in Rome
Gregor Townsend has led Scotland to three wins from five Six Nations matches this season

"We've taken on some top teams in this championship and we've played really well against them at times.

"It's not been perfect but we know we're a work in progress and today's just another part of that process."

'Our fitness probably won the game'

The victory was Scotland's first away from home in the championship for two years - and just their seventh outside of Scotland in 48 Six Nations fixtures - ensuring Townsend's men match their 2017 tally of three wins.

Former Scotland Under-20 fly-half Tommaso Allan contributed 22 of Italy's 29 points, scoring a try in each half and kicking through for Matteo Minozzi to touch down.

Scotland's first-half tries came through Fraser Brown and John Barclay, but it took until the final quarter for the visitors to claw their way back into contention, Sean Maitland then Stuart Hogg scoring to nudge them ahead and bag a bonus point.

Allan kicked a penalty with five minutes remaining, but it was trumped by Laidlaw's 79th-minute strike.

"To come together, to find a way of winning is important in how we develop as a team," Townsend told BBC Scotland.

"It obviously wasn't our best rugby, but we found a way to win and that's a credit to the players on the field.

"Italy played really well, they played their best game [of the season] and in this championship we know it's very tough to win away from home - no matter who you play.

"Italy were unlucky against England at the beginning of the season. They've shown since then they can play some really good rugby, they were very direct at times and their power showed in that first half.

"I believe our fitness probably won us the game, though. We certainly looked the stronger team in the second half."

'Peter Horne was excellent'

Townsend replaced his entire front-row at half-time, while an injury to Finn Russell also forced Greig Laidlaw to move from scrum-half to fly-half, with Ali Price coming on.

The Scotland boss was particularly pleased by the injection of verve and dynamism provided by Peter Horne, the centre, who was introduced in place of Huw Jones after 53 minutes.

Peter Horne carries for Scotland
Peter Horne was an important second-half substitute for Scotland

"Greig moving to 10 is tough in a game where you have to manage your way around the field," he said.

"I thought Peter Horne was excellent, really added spark, and maybe that's what we were lacking first-half.

"We pride ourselves on our energy and we didn't have it right across the board in the first half, but second-half it looked like we were the team with more energy."

'Next year it's hoping to win the championship'

Full-back Hogg, who scored his first try of the tournament in the final 10 minutes, says next year's goal will be to win the title.

Stuart Hogg scores for Scotland
Stuart Hogg scored Scotland's fourth try in the final 10 minutes

"It was tough at times, right up until 75 minutes," Hogg said. "We felt under pressure the whole game.

"We fully expected a really physical test match here, they're a different animal when they're at home. But we're delighted with that. We've had a good few weeks together and now it's back to club rugby.

"It's two years in a row we've managed [three wins], so next year it's hoping to win the championship. We truly believe we can win trophies here and for us the hard work starts now."

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