EDINBURGH (Reuters) - Italy paid the price for failing to take their chances as they slipped to a 26-14 defeat by Scotland in their final Six Nations at Murrayfield on Saturday, but it has been a campaign to build on according to coach Kieran Crowley.
Trailing by five points, Italy were camped on the Scotland tryline in the final few minutes.
It seemed only a matter of time before they breached the defence, but an error provided a turnover from which the hosts launched a blistering attack up field and sealed the win.
It was a fifth loss in the championship for Italy, but further proof they are an improving team who have gone from whipping boys to a competitive outfit under Crowley.
"Scotland finished their opportunities, we didn't finish ours. We keep turning up at the office though and hopefully a bounce will go our way one day," Crowley told BBC One. "It was one hell of a game – they (Scotland) gave it everything, we gave it everything."
Not for the first time it was a lack of execution that cost Italy but they are at least creating chances by applying pressure on opponents.
"It's not for lack of effort. We're playing an up-tempo game – we have to keep putting our players under that pressure in training and learn to execute a little bit better," Crowley says.
"We can improve. If you look at all five games (in the Six Nations) we've had opportunities but haven't affected them. It's something we can build on."
Italy have a Herculean task to make the 2023 Rugby World Cup quarter-finals having been drawn in Pool A with hosts France and New Zealand, but this Six Nations, and wins in the last 12 months over Wales and Australia, show they at least have a new competitive edge.
(Reporting by Nick Said, editing by Ed Osmond)