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Page last updated at 11:09 GMT, Sunday, 15 March 2009

Shanklin relieved by winning try

Tom Shanklin receives the congratulations of his team-mates after his match-winning try
Tom Shanklin receives the congratulations of his team-mates after his try

Wales centre Tom Shanklin breathed a sigh of relief after going from villain to hero in Wales' battling 20-15 win over Italy at Rome's Stadio Flaminio.

The Blues star gave away a penalty after coming off the bench, with Italy going 15-13 ahead on 71 minutes.

But he scored a try from the next play to keep Wales' title hopes alive.

"There was a fair bit of relief," said Shanklin. "We've had bad experiences in Rome before so we'll take the win but we certainly made hard work of it."

Ireland's 22-15 victory over Scotland means Wales must beat Declan Kidney's Grand Slam-chasing side by more than 13 points to have a chance of winning the Championship when the nations meet at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.


"We have to have a big step up for next week but that match in Italy was a big kick up the backside," Shanklin told BBC Sport.

"It turned into a dogfight, we thought they would open up in the last 20 minutes but they stayed very tight.

"We needed to keep the ball in hand more, we were guilty of kicking too much and kicking to players, not to space.

"We showed that when we go through our patterns and keep the ball in hand we can score and create tries."

Shanklin would not be drawn on whether the nine changes made to the team that had lost to France were the reason for Wales' stuttering display.

"You'd have to ask the individuals," he stated. "There was no change in our patterns, we just couldn't get going."

Alun Wyn Jones, Matthew Rees, John Yapp and Andy Powell
With 70 minutes to go I felt quite confident

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones

Wales' new captain for the day Alun Wyn Jones was happy with the result.

"It's not the complete package but the win was first and foremost and we've achieved that," the Ospreys lock told BBC Sport.

"I thought at the 60-minute point it started coming good for us. The three subs Ryan Jones, Matthew Rees and Gethin Jenkins who came on made a big impact for us.

"Tom Shanklin came on and made a bit of a blip but, in fairness, he came back with a great try.

"With 70 minutes to go I felt quite confident, to be honest with you."

Jones paid tribute to the effort of the Italians that helped the home side lead for much of the match.

"Italy are a much-improved side," insisted Jones. "They have always got a very good scrum. I thought we were patchy at scrum but I thought our line-out worked very well again.

"But obviously there are improvements we can make in the scrum. We didn't play as well as we could have.

"I thought the pattern was good in patches and in the last 10 minutes we had control."

On the captaincy Jones said: "I was thoroughly happy to do it and it's a great honour - and it's one win from one at the moment."

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see also
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