( AFP ) - Andrea Marcato scored a last minute drop goal to give Italy their first win under South African coach Nick Mallett as they beat Scotland 23-20 in the Six Nations at the Stadio Flaminio here on Saturday.
Despite the dramatic finale and the wild celebrations that followed, Italy still finished the championship with the wooden spoon as they needed to win by at least five points to overtake Scotland.
Both sides finished the tournament with one win apiece but Italy will be the more satisfied of the two as they are in the midst of a transitional period with a number of inexperienced players - Marcato included - amongst their ranks.
Italy came out firing and an early interception from captain Sergio Parisse eventually allowed Andrea Masi to kick deep into Scotland territory and force a line-out.
Italy messed up the line-out but then won back the ball from a Scotland scrum only for Masi to be held up a yard short of the line.
Scotland lost winger Simon Danielli to a twisted ankle after five minutes but on eight minutes Marcato missed a penalty from the left after a collapsed scrum.
Scotland were rattled and a missed pass in midfield allowed Kaine Robertson to kick ahead with three Italian players eventually forcing Chris Paterson to touch down over his own line.
From the five-yard scrum Italy drove forward and although Parisse touched down, the referee had already given a penalty try for Scotland collapsing the scrum.
But thereafter Scotland hit back and on 21 minutes they too scored a try.
After a thrilling break in the backs Andrew Henderson slipped 10 yards from the line and seemingly lost the chance but Scotland went through the phases and Allister Hogg picked up the ball and sprinted over for a try.
Paterson and Marcato traded penalties to bring the score to 10-10 but disaster struck for the hosts in first half added time.
Italy went to sleep at a break down and Scotland scrum-half and captain Mike Blair quickly picked-up and darted under the posts with Paterson converting for a 17-10 half-time lead.
Marcato missed another penalty on 49 minutes and Scotland's strong defence looked set to frustrate the hosts.
But on the hour mark Parisse intercepted a Dan Parks pass inside his own half and sprinted for the line.
Seeing he wouldn't make it, the Argentina-born captain sent a long inside pass to Gonzalo Canale, who picked it up off the bounce and streaked home under the posts.
Marcato and Paterson traded penalties to leave the score 20-20 with the clock ticking down.
A brilliant long diagonal kick from Marcato gave Italy field position and having tried to go for the try but been held up just short, they switched ploys and Marcato cooly slotted over the winning kick.