Drop goal drama delights Weir
10:23pm Saturday 22nd February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Scotland's match-winner Duncan Weir insists he was never worried about missing his last-gasp drop goal that beat Italy.
The Dark Blues finally snuffed out worries they would end up with this year's RBS 6 Nations wooden spoon with a dramatic 21-20 win over the Azzurri in Rome.
There was just 10 seconds left on the clock with the home side leading by two points when Weir kept his nerve in front of a 66,271-strong crowd at the Stadio Olimpico to plant the ball between the sticks and kick off jubilant Scottish celebrations.
And the fearless Glasgow stand-off claimed he went into auto-pilot as he handed Scotland their first win of the championships.
He told Press Association Sport: "It's the first time I have dropped a goal for Scotland and it has never been more important. I'm absolutely delighted.
"In those pressure moments you can only focus on your routine. I made sure I got my ball drop right and got a clean connection. I'm just so thankful it went over.
"I ran off celebrating, going off my head. It was an immense feeling.
"I had no doubts about taking it on. Chris Cusiter put it on a plate for me, on the right side of my body. The whole thing went perfectly."
However head coach Scott Johnson admitted he was not so confident.
"I've been watching him in training for the three weeks and he hasn't looked like kicking one," he joked.
"I was delighted for him, because his is a position that carries a lot of responsibility. I have seen some growth in the lad and I'm so pleased for him."
The Scots' winning display was a huge improvement on their 20-0 humiliation at the hands of England a fortnight ago.
But there were still worries for Johnson after his team went in at the break 13-3 behind.
Tommy Allan - the former Scotland Under-20s fly-half now representing the nation of his mother's birth - kicked two penalties before bursting through the Scottish defence to score the first try a minute before the break.
But the visitors to the Eternal City responded in style with a fine second-half blitz.
With Greig Laidlaw scoring a couple of penalties, Alex Dunbar then opened his international account when he ran in to score in the corner after the Scots worked quick ball from a ruck on 54 minutes.
Then 13 minutes later, veteran wing Sean Lamont smashed his way past Allan before combining with Cusiter to tee up Dunbar again as he outpaced the Italian defence.
But the Azzurri hit back just moments later when Sergio Parisse - who along with Martin Castrogiovanni became the most capped Italians of all time as they made their 104th appearances - played in lock Joshua Furno to score in the corner.
That edged Italy back in front but there was just about time left for Weir to make himself a hero with his 40-yard drop goal.
Johnson was delighted for his players but challenged them to build on the win by beating France at Murrayfield next month.
"Well it's certainly better than a loss for a boost," he said. "We can't get carried away with a win that could have gone the other way.
"We got a little bit of luck but we showed great resolve. But it won't mean a lot if we don't put on a show against France.
"There are things that we need to improve on, and I'm about consistency with this team. We've got to learn to win consistently, to compete consistently
"The criticism last week was deserved, we didn't play well. But we showed character today. On the back of a 10-2 penalty count I think we showed great character, but we need to execute a little bit better more often."
Italy coach Jacques Brunel praised Allan's display but admitted the Perpignan back is still learning about what it takes to succeed at Test level: "Tommy played as well as anyone in the team.
"He is only 20 years old and is playing in a tough position.
"He does not have a lot of experience but he has to keep playing if he wants to get that experience."