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Wales full-back Lee Byrne
Lee Byrne scores the first of his two tries against Italy
Wales (13) 47
Tries: Byrne (2), Shanklin, S Williams (2)
Con: S Jones (3), Hook (2)
Pens: S Jones (4)

Italy (8) 8
Try: Castrogiovanni
Pens: Marcato

Unbeaten Wales cranked up their Grand Slam charge as they romped to a record Six Nations victory over Italy.

Warren Gatland's revolution continued as Wales put Italy to the sword in Cardiff to set up a potential Triple Crown decider in Ireland in two weeks.

Lee Byrne and Shane Williams both scored twice while Tom Shanklin crowned his 50th Welsh cap with a try.

Stephen Jones enjoyed a 100% record with the boot as he kicked 20 points to guide Wales to a stunning win.

New coach Gatland, enjoying his first Six Nations campaign, inspired Wales to their third successive triumph as his men followed up victories against England and Scotland in style.

The Welsh had previously been guilty of starting slowly but showed instant intent against Italy at the Millennium Stadium as Jones landed two penalties in the opening 10 minutes.

Jones was slightly dazed for his third minute strike as Italian giant Carlo del Fava had cracked the Scarlets star in the head with his knee just as Peel was taken out by the offside Santiago Dellape.

But experienced Jones, replacing fly-half sensation James Hook, made no mistake as Wales capitalised on Italian errors.

606: DEBATE

Yet it was slack Welsh play that gifted Italy the first try of the afternoon after 12 minutes.

Matthew Rees's line-out throw just 10 metres from his own line was far too long for Ian Gough and Martin Castrogiovanni punished the hosts as the Leicester prop bulldozed his way over for a surprise score.

Gonzalo Canale should have added to Wales' woe just minutes later but after the Italian backline had cut the hosts' defence to shreds, but the centre couldn't do justice to a sublime move.

Great inter-play between Andrea Masi and Ezio Galon created the opening but after Masi set him free, Clermont Auvergne star Canale let the ball slip through his fingers with the try line at his mercy.

And Wales made the visitors pay as within five minutes as after sustained pressure, a long Gavin Henson pass released Byrne to score in the corner.

As the Ospreys full-back celebrated his second try of the Championship, Jones smashed over a tricky touchline conversion.

Andrea Marcato, a controversial selection to replace the injured David Bortolussi, had hit the upright with his first two kicks at goal, a conversion and a penalty.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Bryn Palmer

But on the stroke of half-time, the Italian full-back gave Nick Mallett's side what proved to be false hope with a penalty to reduce their deficit to five points.

But within 60 seconds of the break, Italy's good first-half work was blown apart by one of their own.

Fly-half Andrea Masi was the enemy within as his blind looping pass was intercepted by Shanklin.

The Blues centre gratefully accepted the gift and celebrated his half century of caps with arguably the easiest try of his international career.

Mike Phillips, on for the injured Dwayne Peel, should have helped Wales extend their lead still further.

But the replacement scrum-half failed to offload the ball quick enough to the supporting Mark Jones, who would have cruised over.

Tom Shanklin
Shanklin marked his 50th cap with a try just after half time

Wales were starting to turn the screw and their intense pressure earned Jones another two kicks at goal, despatching both, the latter after Mirco Bergamasco was sin-binned for slowing the ball down at a ruck.

Coach Gatland's decision to pick master Jones ahead of pupil Hook proved an astute decision, the Scarlets fly-half revelling in his 68th cap.

Jones' deft pass released Williams for his third touchdown in two games before Jones added the extras with the boot.

Wales punished another Italian mistake with 12 minutes remaining as Ospreys full-back Byrne claimed his second try.

Williams put the icing on the cake as the Ospreys winger danced over for his 39th Wales try, closing to within one of Gareth Thomas' record of 40 tries.

Hook had replaced the faultless Jones and his late two conversions secured the first Welsh victory over the Italians since Wales' last Grand Slam triumph in 2005.

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    Wales: Byrne, M Jones, Shanklin, Henson, S Williams, S Jones, Peel, Jenkins, Rees, R Thomas, Gough, Evans, J Thomas, M Williams, R Jones.
    Replacements: Phillips for Peel (44), Bennett for Rees (55), Hook for S Jones (68), Du Jones for R Thomas (68), De Jones for Evans (68), Delve for M Williams (70), Parker for Henson (71).

    Italy: Marcato, Sgarbi, Canale, Mi Bergamasco, Galon, Masi, Picone, Perugini, Ghiraldini, Castrogiovanni, Dellape, Del Fava, Sole, Ma Bergamasco, Parisse.
    Replacements: Lo Cicero for Perugini (50), Bortolami for Dellape (50), Buso for Masi (54), Travagli for Picone (58), Zanni for Sole (61), Festuccia for Ghiraldini (70).
    Not Used: Patrizio.

    Sin Bin: Mi Bergamasco (50).

    Att: 75,000

    Ref: Dave Pearson (Newcastle).



  • SEE ALSO
    Toughest tests to come - Gatland
    23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
    Six Nations as it happened
    23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
    Wales v Italy player ratings
    23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
    Six Nations photos
    23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
    Wales 30-15 Scotland
    09 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
    Italy 19-23 England
    10 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
    BBC Sport Wales coverage
    21 Feb 08 |  Wales


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