Edinburgh: Italian captain Sergio Parisse said his team`s dramatic last minute 22-19 victory against Scotland at Murrayfield answered the critics who have questioned the Azzurri`s place in the Six Nations championship.
A penalty try with 28 seconds remaining, followed by a conversion by former Scotland under-20 fly half Tommaso Allan, overturned a 19-15 deficit and secured Italy their first win in the Six Nations for almost two years - since a 22-15 success against Ireland in Rome on March 16, 2013.
It was also only Italy`s second away win since they joined the championship in 2000 and Parisse was the the sole survivor from their maiden success on the road - a 37-17 triumph against Scotland in Edinburgh in 2007.
"This victory is not going to cancel all the difficulties that we have but the most important thing is we have shown everyone that we really deserve a place in this tournament," said the Stade Francais No 8.
"Sometimes I have heard people talking about another nations deserving to be in our place, so this victory is something to say, `Okay, we are here. We deserve to be here`."
For Italy`s head coach, Jacques Brunel, the hard-fought victory - in which his team outscored the favoured Scots by three tries to one - was only a second win in 15 matches in all internationals. It also lifted the spectre of an 11th wooden spoon for the Azzurri after opening the 2015 championship with a 26-3 home defeat against Ireland and a 47-17 loss against England at Twickenham.
"This victory will give further confidence to the team and I hope this confidence will help to keep us growing," said Brunel, whose contract expires after the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
"We are a bit closer to finding our balance but now we have two great opportunities to find it against France."
Italy finish their campaign with home games against France on March 13 and Wales on March 21. They have won their last two contests in Rome against France - 22-21 in 2011 and 23-18 in 2013.
Asked how winning in the final minute at Murrayfield in 2015 compared with the 2007 victory against the Scots in Edinburgh, Parisse said: "Today was completely different. In 2007 it was a crazy match. We scored three tries and were 21-0 up after six minutes. Today were really close to losing the match.
"When we scored at the end there was a lot of emotion. Nobody believed we could win today except the players and the staff."
For the Scots, the performance - as well as the result - was a backward step after encouraging displays in their defeats against France in Paris (15-8) and Wales at Murrayfield (26-23).
For all of the improvement they have made under Kiwi head coach Vern Cotter, Scotland now face the prospect of a Six Nations whitewash as well as a Wooden Spoon. Their remaining two matches are on March 14 against England at Twickenham - where they last won in 1983 - and at home to title-holders Ireland on March 21.
"The result was disappointing," said Cotter, who had debutant replacement forwards Ben Toolis and Hamish Watson yellow carded in the final two minutes. "We led the whole game and didn`t control it perhaps as well as we would have liked to in the last 20 minutes.
"We`ll take it on the chin. It`s not the last game of the year."
Scotland have now suffered five successive home defeats in Six Nations matches - their worst run in championship games at Murrayfield since 1951-54, when they lost seven in a row.