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Italy outplay Wales in Cardiff

SIX NATIONS REPORT: Wales have ended their 2024 Six Nations campaign winless after they suffered a 21-24 defeat to Italy in Cardiff on Saturday.


The Welsh were outplayed for large periods of the match with Italy once again showing that they are a team on the up under head coach Gonzalo Quesada.

Victory gave Italy their best Six Nations return of two wins and a draw as they ended a run of eight successive bottom-of-the-table finishes.

They also condemned Wales to a Six Nations whitewash for the first time in 21 years.

Wales finished last in a Six Nations for the first time since that woeful 2003 campaign and was a sad way for George North, who went off injured late on, to bow out from Test rugby in the powerhouse back’s final match before international retirement.

Saturday’s win ensured the Azzurri avoided a ninth-straight ‘wooden spoon’ in the tournament.


Italy scored fine tries through Monty Ioane and Lorenzo Pani, in for the injured Ange Capuozzo, as they led 18-0 until the 65th minute.

But Wales hit back when hooker Elliot Dee forced his way over from close range.

Another Garbisi penalty and one from replacement Martin Page-Relo all but sealed the game for Italy at 24-7 with 10 minutes left.

Wales then managed two further tries through replacements Will Rowlands and Mason Grady but those scores came too late to deny Italy a deserved victory.


Garbisi kicked Italy into an early 6-0 lead after the flyhalf’s forwards forced Wales into conceding two penalties for holding on at rucks.

Wales, overpowered up front in a 24-45 defeat to France last weekend, then conceded a scrum penalty.

After several drives by the forwards, slick handling by Italy’s backs created an overlap on the right for Ioane, coming across from the left wing, to score his 13th try in 30 Tests.

Garbisi made a hash of what should have been a simple conversion, but Italy still led 11-0 with 20 minutes played.

Further Italy dominance up front allowed Garbisi to kick a penalty for an attacking line-out inside Wales’s 22.

Italy, however, lost possession and Wales counter-attacked only for Azzurri captain Michele Lamaro to win a penalty at the breakdown.

Wales’s poor first half was summed up when a lack of communication between Sam Costelow and Cameron Winnett saw both backs go for the same high ball and knock-on to gift Italy a scrum in the hosts’ 22.

Wales briefly threatened at the start of the second half before Italy pulled further clear.

From a line-out, Ioane’s fine angled run saw him burst clear through the defence two years after Capuozzo’s brilliant break led to match-winning late try for Edoardo Padovani in Cardiff.

This time around, Ioane found Pani and the fullback sidestepped Josh Adams in style before sprinting in for a try. Garbisi converted and Italy were 18-0 ahead in the 46th minute as boos rang round the Millennium Stadium from the frustrated home fans.

Wales almost hit back on the hour mark through Tomos Williams but the scrumhalf was tackled superbly in sight of Italy’s tryline by replacement Ross Vintcent.

Welsh supporters at last had something to cheer about when Dee, after several video replays, was awarded a 65th-minute try.

But Garbisi and Page-Relo’s penalties effectively sealed the game in a match where Italy centre Juan Ignacio-Brex was outstanding in defence.

Rowlands went over for a converted try as North limped off injured to a standing ovation before Grady crossed for a mere consolation score.

Man of the match: Italy captain Michele Lamaro was a beast at the breakdown and part of an excellent loose-forward combination in Cardiff. Flyhalf Paolo Garbisi was a constant threat with ball in hand and his goal-kicking is improving with every match. However, the award goes to centre Juan Ignacio Brex again. He continued where he left off against Scotland in the previous round with some powerful runs and some big hits on defence in the midfield.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Tries: Dee, Rowlands Grady
Cons: Costelow, Lloyd 2

For Italy:
Tries: Ioane, Pani
Con: Garbisi
Pens: Garbisi 3, Page-Relo

Wales: 15 Cameron Winnett, 14 Josh Adams, 13 George North, 12 Nick Tompkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Sam Costelow. 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Tommy Reffell, 6 Alex Mann, 5 Adam Beard, 4 Dafydd Jenkins (captain), 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Gareth Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Mackenzie Martin, 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Ioan Lloyd, 23 Mason Grady.

Italy: 15 Lorenzo Pani, 14 Louis Lynagh, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Mirco Spagnolo, 18 Giosue Zilocchi, 19 Riccardo Favretto, 20 Ross Vintcent, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Martin Page-Relo, 23 Leonardo Marin.

Referee: Mathieu Raynal (France)
Assistant referees: Chris Busby (Ireland), Morné Ferreira (South Africa)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)

AFP & @rugby365com

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