Italy missed out on the WXV 2 title by the narrowest of margins despite recording a bonus-point 30-8 victory over USA in Cape Town on Saturday.
The result left the Azzurre tied with Scotland on 15 points at the top of the WXV 2 standings, but it was the Scots who were crowned champions thanks to their marginally superior points difference (+55 to Italy's +53).
Hours earlier, it was the Women's Eagles who took the lead through a Gabriella Cantorna penalty on the 14-minute mark, and it took nearly half an hour for the game's opening try.
Italy hassled and harried at the USA try-line, and were eventually rewarded with the first try when second-row Giordana Duca crashed over from close range with Michela Sillari converting the score.
The Italians continued to dominate possession and territory as the game ticked towards half-time, and a second try came in the half's final minutes with winger Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi dotting down in the corner after some slick handling to send the Azzurre nine points ahead at the break.
Knowing a bonus point would be needed, the Italians got the second half off to the best possible start when scrum-half Sofia Stefan finished off a delightful breakaway started by opening scorer Duca.
USA flanker Freda Tafuna has caused issues throughout this WXV 2 tournament and she did so once again here, breaking the Italian line to set up Tahlia Brody to race in under the posts. But replacement Kristin Bitter missed the conversion.
The second half had an end-to-end nature about its opening stages and Italy’s bonus-point try soon came when winger Alyssa D’Inca scored in the corner after some quick handling from Beatrice Rigoni and Sillari.
With the bonus point secured, Italy had the elusive points difference mark in their sights and just six minutes later they had try number five after some magic from the brilliant Rigoni assisted captain Elisa Giordano to dot down.
Giordano’s try left the Italian’s just six points shy of the WXV 2 title and this was cut in half with a Sillari penalty with 18 minutes to go.
USA gripped more of a foothold in the game, determined to put up a fight in the final quarter but the Italians found themselves with an attacking lineout with six minutes left.
Hooker Laura Gurioli thought she had scored the pivotal try from the subsequent driving maul but referee Natarsha Ganley spotted an obstruction and the try was ruled out.
Italy had one more chance to secure the title when they were rewarded with a penalty as the clock ticked over the 80-minute mark.
Instead of opting to kick at goal, the Azzurre decided on a scrum and despite some strong phase play they knocked on and the WXV 2 title went Scotland’s way.