Wales blow Italy away


Wales wrapped up their third victory of the Six Nations Championship with a record 47-8 win over Italy in Cardiff at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.


Shane Williams and Lee Byrne both crossed twice while Tom Shanklin celebrated his 50th cap with a timely score.


Stephen Jones added 18 points with the boot, as Wales ran out comfortable winners with Williams’s brace taking his international tally to 39, just one try short of the record held by Gareth Thomas.


The victory equalled Wales’ highest score in the Six Nations and represents their biggest winning margin in the Championship.


“Three wins from three and the show goes on,” said Wales skipper Ryan Jones whose team added Saturday’s win to the victories over England and Scotland.


“The boys were fantastic and got the rewards they deserved.” Wales were just 13-8 ahead at the break before running rampant after the interval.


“We wanted to come out more physical, tighten things up and went wide. We did all we wanted to do and scored some fantastic tries,” added Jones.


Italy came to Cardiff with sense of expectancy after pushing Ireland and England and offered sterm opposition for the first half following Martin Castrogiovanni’s early try.


But Wales showed how dangerous they are with the pace in their team as they blitzed their visitors with an outstanding exhibition of speed and skill after the break when they ran in 34 unanswered points.


They enjoyed the lion share of early possession and were deservedly six points to the good after 10 minutes after Stephen Jones twice punished Italian indiscretions at the breakdown.


Italy were soon back in it though.


After finding good field position deep inside the Wales 22, the recalled Matthew Rees horribly overthrew a defensive lineout and the grateful Castrogiovanni lapped up the loose ball to power over for his eighth international try.


Andrea Marcato’s conversion attempt struck the left upright to leave the score at 6-5.


Italy should have gone in front on 21 minutes when their backline ruthlessly carved through the Welsh three quarters only to see centre Gonzalo Canale agonisingly spill the try scoring pass with the line at his mercy.


It was no surprise that when Wales did come to life, the catalyst was the mesmeric Shane Williams.


The Ospreys flyer effortlessly sliced through the Italian defence to send Matthew Rees free on the left and when the hooker was held up short, Williams spurned the opportunity of a kick at goal to quickly tap and go for the line.


He was then held up inches short but the ball was recycled and a long pass to the right flank sent Byrne over unopposed. Jones made no mistake with an inch perfect touchline conversion.


Marcato hit an upright again soon after but did manage to claw three points back on the stroke of halftime for the visitors but they left rueing the missed opportunities which had afforded Wales a scarcely deserved halftime lead.


After ten frantic minutes at the start of the second half the game had been completely turned on its head.


Shanklin celebrated his 50th cap in style a minute in, as he latched on to speculative pass from Andrea Masi to race fifty metres for a try and after duly converting that effort.


Stephen Jones added another two penalties in quick succession to leave the score at 26-8 at the momentum firmly with the men in red.


Wales were now rampant and on 56 minutes, after good carries from Martyn Williams and Mike Phillips, the ball was spread right first to Stephen Jones and then to Henson who put Shane Williams over unopposed.


Jones added the extras.


Byrne went over for his second soon after with a great individual effort.


Shanklin picked up a loose pass from Henson to feed the full-back and he still had plenty to do as he fended the drift defence and sprinted 40 metres for the score.

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