Scotland's slim hopes of a first Six Nations title came to a shuddering end as an inspired Italy recorded their first home win in the championship for 11 years.  

The hosts took the lead inside the first two minutes, Paolo Garbisi composing himself after the ball fell off the kicking tee again – to knock over a penalty after Andy Christie was pinged for holding on with the game’s first carry.  

Scotland hit back with tries from Zander Fagerson and Kyle Steyn, before Juan Ignacio Brex hit back for the hosts.  

Penalties from Garbisi and scrum-half Martin Page-Relo, book-ending a three-pointer from Russell, kept the Azzurri within touching distance.  

READ MORE: Italy 31-29 Scotland LIVE: Full time in Rome as home side win

They dominated the second half, with tries from Louis Lynagh and Stephen Varney putting them in front, and they held on despite Sam Skinner’s late try. Michele Lamaro and co. celebrated lifting the Cuttitta Cup like it was the William Webb Ellis Cup – and few would have held those celebrations against the Azzurri.  

Here are five things we learned from the Italian capital.  

Scotland prone to collapse under pressure 

There were a lot of similarities between Scotland’s collapse here and their narrow escape in Cardiff. In the Welsh capital, reinforcements from the bench stemmed waves of home attacks and allowed Scotland to kick off the campaign with a win, but that was not to be the case at the Stadio Olimpico. 

If there was a lot to like about the way Scotland started the game - the early penalty concession aside – the same could not be said for the second half. First there was a needless obstruction by Schoeman that cost the visitors a fourth try, then they failed to regroup as Italy scored through debutant Lynagh.  

Duhan van der Merwe was bundled into touch not long after, Rory Darge failed to gather a loose ball that had been juggled more than once by a team-mate, and Kyle Steyn had problems gathering a wayward Russell pass.  

Scotland never got going after the break, their rare attacking forays ending either in error or turnover as the Italians assumed control.  

All week the noise from the camp had been about delivering an 80-minute performance, but if they are to achieve that in this Six Nations, they have serious work to do in the next seven days.  

Scottish backline lacked punch 

The loss of Sione Tuipulotu from Scotland’s midfield was always going to be a blow, but his absence today was so keenly felt with the visitors unable to get over the gain line out wide. Cam Redpath is a fine footballer, and when he and Russell linked up and Scotland were on the front foot, it was all going so well. But when the Italians put Scotland under pressure, the visitors were without their route-one carrying option in the midfield to get them out of bother.  

Instead Scotland went from side-to-side, sometimes aimlessly, and looked to Duhan van der Merwe to charge over the top of his opposite number. More than once he was driven back by multiple Italian tacklers. The home side’s defensive effort was supreme.  

Stafford McDowall would have provided more of a carrying option in the midfield, and has been in stunning form for Glasgow of late. He’s only got one cap, but Gregor Townsend might well consider turning to him for a trip to Dublin next weekend. Barring injury, Bundee Aki and Robbie Henshaw will lie in wait.  

Scotland Rugby News:

Discipline issues gave hosts momentum 

When Scotland went into an 11-point lead early on, they looked like they had wrestled back control after the hosts took an early lead, but ill-discipline allowed the home side to get back into the game. The kicking of Garbisi and Martin Page-Relo, who landed a long-range effort, kept Italy within touching distance.  

Andy Christie gave away a couple of soft penalties, including one where he failed to roll away right in front of referee Angus Gardner. George Horne rushed in off his feet after George Turner was isolated carrying back an Italian kick. Quite why Scotland’s hooker was the last man back is another issue, but Horne’s infringement allowed Page-Relo to make it a six-point game at the break.  

Even when Scotland thought they’d wrapped up the bonus point with their first attack of the second half, George Horne scampering under the posts from Huw Jones’ break, their indiscipline was costly. Obstruction by Schoeman on Ross Vintcent handed Italy the ball and just two minutes later they should have been in front through Lynagh’s try, but Garbisi’s conversion hit the post.  

Italy in Rome should never be underestimated 

While Italy came into the game having not won a Six Nations match in front of their home fans since 2013, a trip to Rome should never be underestimated. So many Scotland fans on the streets of Rome said pre-match they felt more nervous for this contest than any other in the campaign, and for all of Scotland’s problems, the Azzurri produced a stunning second half performance that their visitors could not live with.  

It’s a decade since Duncan Weir salvaged victory for Scotland with a last-minute drop-goal, but this time there were to be no heroics and the Italians were not to be denied a famous win as they had been in Lille two weeks ago.  

Captain Michele Lamaro led fron the front, Garbisi was excellent at fly-half, Ross Vintcent the Exeter number eight who was delivering pizzas only a few weeks ago tremendodus and Ange Capuozzo a constant threat on the counter attack.  

Scotland have some way to go before they are contenders 

Gregor Townsend’s side are now likely to end the championship with just two wins; by the narrowest of margins over a Wales side being rebuilt by Warren Gatland, and an England team struggling to find its attacking spark while implementing a new defensive structure.  

To avoid that, Scotland will need to end a 14-year wait for victory in Dublin against an Ireland side who have looked imperious so far. The chances of that were slim going into this match, they are almost non-existent now. The Triple Crown will be on the line on St Patrick’s weekend, and Ireland could be on course for a second consecutive Grand Slam, a feat nobody has achieved in the Six Nations era. After the disappointment of the World Cup, questions must be asked about where Scotland go from here.