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Six Nations highlights: Michele Lamaro guides Italy to new heights

Another Six Nations with plenty of sub-plots, heroes and villains, the 2024 tournament certainly did not disappoint in terms of drama.

As we look back on a Six Nations in which Ireland were once again crowned champions, here are five highlights from five thrilling weekends of Test rugby.

Wales almost pull-off comeback of the ages

The opening weekend saw a Six Nations classic play out at the Principality Stadium, as Scotland looked to end a 22-year wait for victory over Wales in Cardiff.

Gregor Towsend’s side enjoyed a dream start as they blew away a hapless Wales side to go up 27-0 in the first 43 minutes of the contest.

Looking capable of putting 40 or 50 points past Warren Gatland’s side, the threat of being embarrassed on their own patch seemed to spark a young Welsh side into life.

In a dramatic turnaround, tries from James Botham, Rio Dyer, Aaron Wainwright and Alex Mann saw the momentum completely shift.

Scotland went from a side playing with flair and confidence to one completely shattered and just praying for the final whistle to go.

The Scots managed to get a grip of themselves and held out for the final 12 minutes to edge a thrilling contest 27-26 and end their wait for victory in Cardiff.

Scotland record landmark Calcutta Cup victory

Not since the 1890s had Scotland won four successive Calcutta Cup clashes against old rivals England, but that’s exactly what Townsend’s side achieved with a 30-21 victory at Murrayfield.

England made a strong start in Edinburgh to burst into a 10-0 lead, however, there was no panic in the Scottish ranks and the hosts forced their way back into the contest.

Duhan van der Merwe became the first Scotland player to score a Calcutta Cup hat-trick as the winger was a thorn in England’s side once again.

With Finn Russell pulling the strings and Van der Merwe running riot, the win over Steve Borthwick’s men would prove to be the highlight of yet another inconsistent tournament for the Scots.

Italy almost stun France in their own backyard

Few would have given Italy a hope of getting anything from their trip to Lille, to face a French side who had been tipped for World Cup glory just last year.

France dominated the first half but a red card for centre Jonathan Danty just before the break saw another shift in momentum.

Italy full-back Ange Capuozzo dotted down for a try in the 69th minute to set up a thrilling conclusion.

With the scores tied at 13-13, Italy were issued a late penalty with a chance to claim a famous win on French soil.

While French players were unpunished for encroaching on a penalty kick, Paolo Garbisi saw the ball fall off his kicking tee, before striking his rushed follow-up kick off the post.

Another dramatic and controversial end to a Six Nations clash, and while it was an opportunity missed for the Italians, it was a performance that was the foundation of even better things to come.

Azzurri get their just deserts

A double highlight for Italy, the Azzurri shook off that disappointment at the end to the game in Lille to beat Scotland in Rome and Wales in Cardiff.

Trailing by 12 points against the Scots, the Azzurri rallied just before the break and went on to record a famous 31-29 victory at the Stadio Olimpico.

Not wanting their tournament to go out with a whimper, skipper Michele Lamaro guided his side to an impressive 24-21 win over Wales at the Principality Stadium in the final round.

Two late tries for the hosts flattered the scoreline somewhat for the Welsh, as Italy dominated the contest.

There were questions over Italy’s place in the Six Nations a couple of years ago but the Azzurri have truly silenced their critics.

With coach Gonzalo Quesada taking this side to the next level, it will be interesting to see if Italy can kick on next year and climb even higher up the standings.

Thriller in Lyon caps off the tournament

Even though Ireland had already secured the Six Nations title with victory over Scotland in Dublin, Lyon got to witness a classic Test match between France and England.

France looked like they had the potential to break free of the visitors, especially when Nolann Le Carrec finished off a classic try from Les Bleus in the 20th minute.

However, England stormed back into the contest with three tries in the space of six minutes either side of half-time.

Ollie Lawrence bagged himself a brace and Marcus Smith also scored to take England into the lead.

In a Test match which saw the balance of the game swing both ways multiple times, Leo Barre and Gael Fickou scored tries in a four-minute spell to put France back in front.

A Tommy Freeman try, converted on the touchline with a fine strike from George Ford looked like it would earn England a famous win on the road in Lyon.

However, a last-gasp penalty from the halfway line by Thomas Ramos broke English hearts and helped a much-criticised France win 33-31 to somehow finish second in the Six Nations table.

This article was written by a partner sports writer via Spotlight Sports Group. All odds displayed on this page were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.

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