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Italy's 'group of nutters' show the way forward after historic win

REACTION: Italy coach Gonzalo Quesada beamed with pride on Saturday after his team of “nutters” beat Scotland 31-29 to win their first Six Nations home match in 11 years.

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Italy were 3-14 down after 12 minutes and 16-22 behind at the break in Rome as Scotland looked like blitzing their opponents, but a thrilling second-half from the hosts gave the Azzurri a historic win.

“We have a group of nutters here, of whom the captain [Michele Lamaro] is the furthest gone. What they have is a desire and effort and they do everything at 100 percent everyday. All we need to do is give them focus,” Quesada told reporters.

“This team has a group of leaders who do amazing things. I’m proud to have had months to try and bring this team to a win. But it’s only the beginning. The win validates a lot of work but I haven’t changed anything.

“To see the defensive organisation, heart and effort, but also the play at the right time in the right situations, that’s the hardest part to coach. As a coach I’m very, very proud of them, and we have room to improve even more.”

Captain Lamaro was at the Stadio Olimpico as a boy when Italy last won in the Six Nations in the Italian capital, against Ireland in 2013.

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And the 25-year-old was key for Italy in the final minutes as the hosts held out for 24 phases of play as Scotland tried and failed to get the three points they needed to snatch the win.

“It felt like more than 24 phases to be honest. Defending is one thing but not conceding a foul in those phases is the important thing there,” said Lamaro.

“We have worked on the mental side for years. It’s always the way you prepare which makes the difference.”

Next stop Cardiff

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Italy now face Wales in Cardiff in their final match as the Azzurri attempt to avoid a ninth straight wooden spoon after moving up to fourth in the Six Nations standings.

Scotland meanwhile gave Ireland a chance to win the second championship in a row with a match to spare, and they now have a fight on their hands to finish in the top two for the first time since winning the last Five Nations in 1999.

Gregor Townsend would have kept their slim title hopes alive with a win on Saturday but England and France can move above them this weekend following a defeat which looked very unlikely in the opening minutes.

The Scots now have the daunting prospect of facing double Grand Slam chasers Ireland in Dublin to end this year’s tournament in a positive fashion.

“We gave Italy a way into the game through penalties and field position. And if you give that to any team in the Six Nations they’re going to take the points,” said Townsend.

“We’ll get over it, the team will get over it and we know that we’ll have to play much better next week because we’re playing the best team in the world right now.”

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