Six Nations - Millennium Stadium, 20 March 2010, 14:30 local, 14:30 GMT
Wales (12) 33 - 10 (0) Italy (FT)

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Summary

Time Score  
 

Good afternoon, folks, I'm Mark Doyle and welcome to scrum.com's live coverage of today's Six Nations clash between Wales and Italy in Cardiff. The importance of this game is being overlooked by many but this is a pretty significant encounter for both sides. Indeed, Wales dare not lose it, while Italy can equal their best ever Championship finish with a win (fourth place in 2007).

The hosts, of course, have endured a disastrous Six Nations campaign. Yes, they have shown plenty of heart in thrice attempting stirring second-half comebacks but only once, against Scotland in round two, have they proven successful. In addition, they produced a dismal display in Croke Park against the Irish last weekend and, make no mistake about it, head coach Warren Gatland is under more pressure than at any previous point in his reign. Dare we say it, but a loss in Cardiff today might see the axe fall on the Kiwi.

Gatland's certainly had the look of a desperate man of late and he's made five changes to the side beaten in Dublin, with the most exciting inclusion undoubtedly that of Tom Prydie, the Ospreys winger who, at 18 years and 27 days old, is to become Wales' youngest ever international. However, the selection of Sam Warburton on the openside ahead of his Cardiff Blues colleague Martyn Williams has also generated much debate. Elsewhere, Wales are boosted by the return of Mike Phillips, Gethin Jenkins and Ryan Jones, which would suggest that they should have too much quality for their visitors.

However, Italy cannot be underestimated. They were left chasing shadows at time in Paris last week but they were not the first side in this year's Championship to experience such a fate and besides, they never kept battling and finished the game strongly, racking up late tries through Carlo Antonio del Fava and Pablo Canavosio. As a result, they will arrive in Cardiff brimming with belief. They have never won here before but they did manage a draw back in 2006.

So, all in all, there's plenty to look forward to; let's hope 'Super Saturday' begins with a bang. Kick-off is not far away now.....

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14:25 Almost go time at the Millennium Stadium. The teams are on the field and we're just awaiting the anthems.

1

A loud shrill of the whistle from referee Wayne Barnes, a deep kick-off from Italy fly-half Craig Gower and we're underway in Cardiff.

2

Decent start from the Azzurri, who take it through a number of phases before Gower slices a kick out to the left wing. It looks like food and drink for Williams, but the Wales wing lets it slip through his fingers and out into touch.

3

Not even three minutes gone her in Cardiff and they're dropping like flies. Adam Jones has been forced off with a nasty gash above his eye, while Gonzalo Canale is struggling to get back on his feet after being taken to ground by Prydie.

4

More good possession from the Italians - without ever threatening to break the gain-line - before Gower attempts a drop goal from the edge of the 22. It's an ugly effort, though, and it wobbles wide.

6

The Welsh could be in for another day of woe in the aire. Their first lineout on their own through was scrappy at best but they manage to claim it all the same and that draws some amusing ironic cheers from the home fans.

7

Our first glimpse of Prydie on the front foot. The ball is worked wide by Wales and Prydie chips the ball ahead. However, Robertson comes hurtling across on the slide to collect and carry the ball into touch.

8 3 - 0

There's the difference, folks: with their first meaningful foray into the Italian 22, Wales emerge with some points. Stephen Jones made a break up the middle and a couple of phases later the Italians were pinged for not releasing Ryan Jones. The former then splits the sticks with the resulting penalty.

10

Adam Jones is fit to return after being stitched up, so it's back to the bench for Paul James.

11

Pratichetti majestically claims a high ball in midfield but Wales managed to turn the ball over and immediately clear.

13

Such bad luck for the Italians. Ryan Jones is caught offside at a ruck some 35 metres out from his own line but while Bergamasco strikes his kick on goal well, it comes back off the right post. Harsh on the visitors, who deserve to be level given the amount of possession they've had early on.

14

Davies has been forced off after taking a heavy knock to the head. It remains to be seen whether the lock, who has been one of Wales' few success stories in this year's Championship, manages to return.

17

Remarkable! Wales are four from four at the lineout. They're currently on the offensive, too, deep in Italian territory.

18

The Welsh are working the ball from side to side, frantically searching for a hole in this very impressive Italian defence - but they've yet to find one.

19

Terrific stuff from Italy. They force a turnover at the breakdown and clear to touch. That was incredibly resolute and disciplined defensive work from the visitors.

20

Wales have another go but Italy stand firm once more and McLean boots the reclaimed ball into touch.

21 6 - 0

Stephen Jones decides to take on the Italian defence again. He's taken to the floor but Geldenhuys is guilty of not releasing and Jones picks himself up, dusts himself off and strokes over a second penalty to double the home side's advantage.

23

The recalled Mike Phillips makes his first break of the game, taking a quick tap in midfield which catches the Italians napping. He storms forward, dragging Wales deep into Italian territory before eventually being grounded. Exciting stuff from the Ospreys scrum-half.

24

More bad news for the Italians, with the lively Pablo Canavosio being forced off through injury. Tebaldi comes on in his place.

25

Wales are growing into this and looking more and more menacing with each passing attack. Byrne has gone close to the line twice in the past two minutes.

27

Wales set up camp in the left corner and batter away at the Italian line before eventually moving the ball wide. Williams bends his run superbly before putting Byrne in to score. However, Williams' try was forward. Devastating blow for the hosts.

29

One cannot help but admire the Italians: they're nothing if not resilient. Wales just had a five-metre scrum wide on the left but the Azzurri's front row got a huge shove on and forced their Welsh counterparts into the concession of a penalty. Fantastic stuff.

31 9 - 0

Wales keep the pressure on and when the Italians are caught offside for the umpteenth time, Stephen Jones steps up to the mark again and strokes over another penalty.

33

Terrific play from Hook. The Welsh centre claims a horrible sliced kick from Gower in the middle of the park, spins away from one tackler and the lobs the ball forward. Unfortunately, the bounce doesn't go for him and McLean is able to snuff out the danger.

34 12 - 0

It's the Welsh front row which manages to force a penalty this time around and Jones takes advantage, lofting the ball over from close range to move the home side into double figures. The Italians desperately need a score before half-time.

37

More nice play from Hook, who claims a crossfield kick in midfield before finding Roberts with the most delicious off-load off the floor. Unfortunately, the move comes to nothing in the face of more uncompromising defending from the Italians.

38

Interesting clearance there from Shane Williams. Rather than collect a bouncing ball with his hands he opts to merely boot it, soccer-style, into touch. The crowd rather enjoyed that!

39

Scrum.com's Graham Jenkins: "As impressive as Italy's industry is they are painfully short of ideas with the ball in hand."

40

After another lengthy spell of possession, Gower attempts a long-range drop goal. The fly-half loses his footing and the ball ends up harmlessly trickling over the end-line. That has just about summed up Italy's half: plenty of possession but no end product. Wales have hardly been scintillating but they have been effective and Jones is having another very productive afternoon with the boot. If Wales remain patient the tries will come.

40

Stephen Jones with the restart and we're back underway in the Welsh capital with Italy having it all to do.

41

Italy begin with two ugly kicks, from McLean and Bergamasco. Hardly the most encouraging start for head coach Nick Mallett.

42

Rees threatens to find a way through for Wales down the left wing with the aid of a nice hand-off and an impressive turn of pace but the hooker's break comes to nothing.

44

A timely boost for the Italians, with their front row earning themselves another penalty in the set-piece. This should enable McLean to kick Italy into an advantageous kicking position.

45

Williams brings the Millennium Stadium to life with a trademark jinking run from deep inside his own half. Wales work it wide but too many players end up spoiling the broth. Williams then tries a little grubber out to the left for Prydie but Gower is back to cover.

47

Wales are positively banging on the door now. This time its Hook who breaks through. A try looks an inevitability but Hook tries to go for the corner himself instead of straigthening his line and putting the supporting Prydie over. As a result, McLean has sufficient time and the required angle to get back. Hook then tries an off-load as he's taken into touch but the Ospreys ace is unable to find his man and Italy survive.

50 17 - 0

The game Italian resistance is finally broken, with Hook breaking through a desperately weak challenge from Tebaldi to crash over from close range.

51 19 - 0

Stephen Jones adds the extras from wide on the left in some style. This could get ugly now for the Italians, which would be a shame in one sense given that they haven't really suffered a resounding defeat in their four previous games in this year's Championship. Even in Paris they emerged with some credit after a strong last quarter.

55

Oh dear, oh dear, the Italians are in serious trouble now. They were hanging on for dear life as it was but now they've lost Mauro Bergamasco to the sin bin for the most stupid challenge on Hook, who was minding his own business on the edge of a Welsh ruck when he was flattened by the Azzurri flanker.

56 24 - 0

Well, Wales have wasted little time in making their numerical advantage count, Hook cruising over for his second try of the game after an inviting, flat pass from Stephen Jones.

57 26 - 0

Jones makes no mistake with the conversion attempt once more. One has to fear the worst for the Azzurri now.

59

Scrum.com's Graham Jenkins: "Stephen Jones auditioning for a part in Avatar the sequel with all that blue paint on his face!"

61

Italy were very nearly reduced to 13 men a moment ago after more ill-discipline at the breakdown but they escaped and, thankfully, appear to have calmed down. They're currently enjoying their best spell of possession since the restart. Can they get any points, though?

63

Cracking stuff! Mirco Bergamasco and Mike Phillips very nearly came to blows there. The Italian centre took exception to the scrum-half's attempt to reclaim the ball. There was an outbreak of handbags but it came to nothing.

64 26 - 3

Italy are finally off the mark! Wales were caught offside and Bergamasco, fresh from his set-to with Phillips, manages to calm himself down sufficiently to land the resulting penalty.

67 31 - 3

Wales are over again. Byrne weaves his way through the Italian defence before releasing replacement centre Tom Shanklin. The Blues ace then puts Phillips away. The Osprey looked certain to score but he was grounded just inches short by Mirco Bergamasco (of all people!). However, the ball was quickly recycled and Phillips was able to dive over from close range.

68 33 - 3

Fly-half Jones wastes little time in slotting over the extras and there are now 30 points between the sides.

70

The Italians look out on their feet at the minute. A late rally akin to the one we saw in Saint Denis last week looks unlikely.

74 33 - 8

Oustanding spirit from the Italians! They just never stop fighting and they'e been rewarded for their resilience with a try, McLean jinking his way over after Italy's most penetrative spell of possession.

75 33 - 10

Bergamasco lands the conversion with the minimum of fuss and Italy have reached double figures, which did not look even remotely likely for long periods of this second half!

76

Wales threaten again and again it's Hook who acts as the catalyst. He breezes past a couple of tackles before off-loading to Warburton. The flanker deserved a score for fantastic display on the openside but he's grounded by a stunning tackle by Vosawai.

78

Hook's provided us with most of this afternoon's memorable moments but it's Wales' principal play-maker, Stephen Jones, who's just been named man of the match.

80

Wales kick the ball long. They don't even bother to chase as Italy just have to touch it down. They do just that and the game is over. A morale-boosting win for Wales, who produced their most consistent performance of the Championship. A shame for them that it came on the last day when there was nothing at stake. Still, the fans will go home happy after an encouraging display. As for Italy, well, they finally ran out of steam after what has been a decent campaign for them. They again showed remarkable heart but once more their lack of incision behind the scrum was painfully evident. The Azzurri will now be hoping that Ireland see off Scotland later today, thus consigning Andy Robinson's men to the wooden spoon.

Timeline

Time Wales  Score  Italy
0 start of first half start of first half
2 James - sub on
AR Jones - sub off
3 Pratichetti - sub on
Canale - sub off
8 SM Jones - penalty goal 3 - 0
10 James - sub off
AR Jones - sub on
14 Davies - sub off
Gough - sub on
21 SM Jones - penalty goal 6 - 0
24 Canavosio - sub off
Tebaldi - sub on
31 SM Jones - penalty goal 9 - 0
34 SM Jones - penalty goal 12 - 0
40+1 end of first half end of first half
40 start of second half start of second half
50 Hook - try 17 - 0
51 SM Jones - conversion 19 - 0
54 Aguero - sub on
Perugini - sub off
Vosawai - sub on
Sole - sub off
55 M Bergamasco - yellow card
56 Hook - try 24 - 0
57 SM Jones - conversion 26 - 0
63 Rees - sub off
James - sub on
Shanklin - sub on
Bennett - sub on
Roberts - sub off
AR Jones - sub off
Tebaldi - sub off
Bocchino - sub on
64 26 - 3 Ongaro - sub on
Ghiraldini - sub off
M Bergamasco - penalty goal
66 Delve - sub on
RP Jones - sub off
67 Williams - try 31 - 3
68 SM Jones - conversion 33 - 3
69 Bishop - sub on
SM Jones - sub off
Phillips - sub off
Peel - sub on
72 Bortolami - sub off
Bernabo - sub on
74 33 - 8 McLean - try
75 33 - 10 M Bergamasco - conversion
80 end of second half
end of half
end of second half
end of half
0
80

Notes

 
Result Wales won by a margin of 23 points
Six Nations points Wales 2, Italy 0
 
Ground name Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Attendance 70584
 
Referee W Barnes (England)
 
Wales Test debuts TWJ Prydie
Italy Test debuts none

Teams

Wales Italy
Tries Hook (50, 56), Williams (67) Tries McLean (74)
Cons SM Jones (51, 57, 68) Cons M Bergamasco (75)
Pens SM Jones (8, 21, 31, 34) Pens M Bergamasco (64)

Match stats

Wales   Italy
3 Tries 1
3 from 3 Conversion goals 1 from 1
4 from 4 Penalty goals 1 from 2
100.0% Kick at goal success 66.7%
0 Dropped goals 0 (2 missed)
Kick/pass/run
34 Kicks from hand 37
164 Passes 84
116 Runs 79
542 Metres run with ball 268
Attacking
8 Clean breaks 3
14 Defenders beaten 8
6 Offloads 11
96 from 101 (95.0%) Rucks won 68 from 71 (95.8%)
3 from 3 (100.0%) Mauls won 4 from 4 (100.0%)
15 Turnovers conceded 7
Defensive
73/8 Tackles made/missed 127/14
90.1% Tackling success rate 90.1%
Set pieces
5 won, 2 lost (71.4%) Scrums on own feed 8 won, 1 lost (88.9%)
14 won, 0 lost (100.0%) Lineouts on own throw 9 won, 0 lost (100.0%)
Discipline
11 Penalties conceded 16
0/0 Yellow/red cards 1/0

Wales stats

Pos   T/A Pts K/P/R MR CB DB OL TO Tack LO Pen Y/R
FB Byrne 0/0 0 8/5/14 120 2 2 0 1 1/1 0/0 0 0/0
W Prydie 0/0 0 3/2/3 8 1 0 0 1 3/0 0/0 0 0/0
C Hook 2/0 10 4/9/11 105 3 4 1 2 2/1 0/0 0 0/0
C Roberts 0/0 0 0/2/9 22 0 1 0 0 4/1 0/0 0 0/0
W Williams 1/0 5 4/12/6 35 1 2 0 2 1/0 0/0 0 0/0
FH SM Jones 0/2 18 8/36/8 27 0 2 0 1 2/1 0/0 0 0/0
SH Phillips 0/0 0 2/66/11 62 1 1 1 0 2/0 0/0 0 0/0
P Jenkins 0/0 0 0/6/7 20 0 1 0 0 4/0 0/0 1 0/0
H Rees 0/0 0 0/3/5 25 0 0 0 0 5/0 0/0 0 0/0
P AR Jones 0/0 0 0/1/1 1 0 0 0 0 6/0 0/0 1 0/0
L Davies 0/0 0 0/0/0 0 0 0 0 0 1/1 1/0 0 0/0
L Charteris 0/0 0 0/1/5 14 0 0 1 2 9/1 2/0 0 0/0
F Thomas 0/0 0 0/6/8 5 0 0 2 1 5/0 6/0 0 0/0
F Warburton 0/0 0 0/3/4 17 0 1 0 0 9/0 0/0 1 0/0
N8 RP Jones 0/0 0 0/3/14 25 0 0 1 2 8/0 2/0 1 0/0
(H) Bennett 0/0 0 0/0/0 0 0 0 0 0 1/0 0/0 0 0/0
(P) James 0/0 0 0/1/0 0 0 0 0 1 1/0 0/0 0 0/0
(L) Gough 0/0 0 0/1/4 10 0 0 0 1 4/0 3/0 1 0/0
(N8) Delve 0/0 0 0/0/3 20 0 0 0 0 2/0 0/0 0 0/0
(SH) Peel 0/0 0 1/5/1 4 0 0 0 1 0/1 0/0 0 0/0
(C) Bishop 0/0 0 0/1/1 2 0 0 0 0 1/1 0/0 1 0/0
(C) Shanklin 0/0 0 0/1/1 20 0 0 0 0 2/0 0/0 0 0/0
Key T/A Tries / Try Assists Pts Points scored
K/P/R Kick / Pass / Run MR Metres Run with ball
CB Clean Breaks DB Defenders Beaten OL OffLoads TO TurnOvers
Tack Tackles made / missed LO LineOuts won on throw / stolen on opp throw
Pen Penalties conceded Y/R Yellow / Red cards

Italy stats

Pos   T/A Pts K/P/R MR CB DB OL TO Tack LO Pen Y/R
FB McLean 1/0 5 9/4/9 62 0 2 0 1 2/0 0/0 1 0/0
W Robertson 0/0 0 1/0/3 29 0 0 1 1 6/0 0/0 0 0/0
C Canale 0/0 0 0/0/2 24 1 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0 0/0
C Garcia 0/0 0 1/1/4 15 1 1 1 2 11/5 0/0 0 0/0
W M Bergamasco 0/0 5 1/1/3 9 0 0 1 0 5/0 0/0 0 0/0
FH Gower 0/0 0 10/10/5 23 0 0 1 0 13/2 0/0 0 0/0
SH Canavosio 0/0 0 2/20/3 6 0 0 0 1 5/0 0/0 0 0/0
P Perugini 0/0 0 0/0/2 1 0 0 0 0 3/1 0/0 3 0/0
H Ghiraldini 0/0 0 0/0/4 11 0 1 0 0 10/0 0/0 0 0/0
P Castrogiovanni 0/0 0 0/1/8 8 0 0 1 0 11/1 0/0 0 0/0
L Geldenhuys 0/0 0 0/3/4 0 0 0 0 0 7/0 1/0 2 0/0
L Bortolami 0/0 0 0/4/3 0 0 0 0 0 7/1 2/0 1 0/0
F Sole 0/0 0 0/0/6 11 0 1 0 0 4/1 1/0 0 0/0
F M Bergamasco 0/0 0 1/5/1 0 0 0 0 0 11/0 0/0 2 1/0
N8 Zanni 0/0 0 1/1/8 28 0 1 0 1 7/1 3/0 2 0/0
(H) Ongaro 0/0 0 0/0/2 0 0 0 0 0 2/0 0/0 0 0/0
(P) Aguero 0/0 0 0/0/2 4 0 0 1 0 1/1 0/0 0 0/0
(L) Bernabo 0/0 0 0/0/0 0 0 0 0 0 0/0 0/0 0 0/0
(F) Vosawai 0/0 0 0/2/2 18 0 0 0 0 5/0 0/0 1 0/0
(SH) Tebaldi 0/0 0 3/19/3 4 0 0 1 0 4/1 0/0 1 0/0
(SH) Bocchino 0/0 0 3/12/1 0 0 0 1 0 0/0 0/0 0 0/0
(C) Pratichetti 0/0 0 0/1/4 15 1 2 2 1 13/0 0/0 0 0/0
Key T/A Tries / Try Assists Pts Points scored
K/P/R Kick / Pass / Run MR Metres Run with ball
CB Clean Breaks DB Defenders Beaten OL OffLoads TO TurnOvers
Tack Tackles made / missed LO LineOuts won on throw / stolen on opp throw
Pen Penalties conceded Y/R Yellow / Red cards

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