Wales had too much class for a game Italian side, winning 47-8 in a Six Nations match in Cardiff.
The grin on Wales coach Warren Gatland’s face as the match started said it all: he and his camp were brimming with confidence following their first two games in the tournament. They started that way as well, running the ball at every opportunity. Their first points came from a penalty almost in front of the posts as Italy went offside to stop yet another Welsh attack. Stephen Jones potted it, followed by another a few minutes later.
Italy’s reply came after 11 minutes after a terrible mix-up in the Wales line-out. Italian prop Martin Castrogiovanni idling at the back couldn’t believe his luck as the ball landed in his hands. He made good use of it, though, barrelling through several Welsh tackles to score. Italy flyhalf Andrea Masi missed the conversion.
As the half wore on Italy crept back into the match. Despite having a huge amount of possession, Wales’ attacks went nowhere â€“ the Italians cleverly wouldn’t commit men to the rucks leaving plenty of numbers out wide to tackle. They followed this with some good runs which they just couldn’t convert into points.
The game, full of niggle, began to get scrappy but Wales managed to draw ahead with a try by fullback and Man of the Match Lee Byrne after a quick tap in front of the posts was recycled several times and then spread wide. Jones converted. Italy had a single penalty by fullback Andrea Marcato to show for their efforts.
The sides changed halves at 13-8 but after that it was all Wales. The Italians began to tire and the massive tackle count sapped their strength. The game got looser and looser and it was exactly what the Welsh wanted. An intercept try by flanker Tom Shanklin sank all Italian hopes and after that Wales ran riot. Winger Shane Williams scored two and Byrne dotted down for another as the Italians rolled over.
Wales: Penalties: Stephen Jones (4). Tries: Lee Byrne (2), Tom Shanklin, Shane Williams (2). Conversions: Stephen Jones (3), James Hook (2)
Italy: Try: Martin Castrogiovanni. Penalty: Andrea Marcato