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Italy 16-24 Wales

Italy (11) 16
Tries: Canale, Parisse Pens: Bergamasco 2
Wales (21) 24
Tries: Stoddart, Warburton Con: Jones Pens: Jones 3 Drop-goal: Hook

Valerio Bernabo of Italy tackles Ryan Jones of Wales

Highlights: Italy 16-24 Wales

By Gareth Roberts
BBC Sport Wales

Wales secured a second 2011 Six Nations away win as they held off Italy's stern challenge at Stadio Flaminio in Rome.

James Hook kicked a vital late drop-goal to keep the Azzurri at bay in a frenzied, mistake-ridden clash.

Italy's Gonzalo Canale scored the opening try, with Morgan Stoddart levelling and Sam Warburton getting Wales' second.

Stephen Jones kicked eight points and Hook the vital drop-goal, but Mirco Bergamasco missed three shots at goal.

Having lost 26-19 in their opener to England and won 24-6 against Scotland at Murrayfield, Warren Gatland's side can now look forward to their 12 March showdown in Cardiff against Ireland.

Wales seemed to be on top in the opening stages, setting up the opening penalty for fly-half Jones after three minutes only to gift the Azzurri the chance that led to the opening try.

Having entered the game determined to move Italy's pack around, Wales fell victim to their own approach.

Hook launched an attack outside his 22-metre line, but lock Bradley Davies' poor pass left Stoddart unable to gather.

Sam Warburton

Warburton try puts Wales in control

Instead Italy centre Canale picked up before kicking ahead and inevitably beating Davies to the line.

The visitors struck back through Stoddart for a score awarded by the video referee amid the frantic action that showed no sign of abating.

Amid the constant movement and regular mistakes and misjudgements, the Welsh scrum was under pressure and their taking at the restarts left much to be desired.

But those fundamental aspects of the Welsh first-half performance were countered by Italy's shaky line-out.

Even so the Azzurri were able to draw level after 12 minutes when Mirco Bergamasco made up for his earlier fluffed conversion by striking his first penalty attempt.

Wales number eight Ryan Jones looked to be in trouble when he took a blow to his right shoulder in a tackle on hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini.

But he recovered to watch as Shane Williams, celebrating his 34th birthday, launched the move that led to Wales' second try.

606: DEBATE
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Williams took scrum-half Fabio Semenzato's poor clearance under no pressure, moved infield and sent Lee Byrne through a gap in Italy's disjointed defence.

Hook took the move on and found Warburton at his shoulder, the flanker running in for his first Test try for Jones to convert.

Warburton then thwarted an Italian threat with some good work, only to kick ahead when his defensive efforts paid dividends and Mitchell came away with the ball only for the flanker to ignore the overlap outside him.

But Wales were able to claim a 10-point interval lead after Stephen Jones penalties.

First the fly-half punished prop Martin Castrogiovanni for lying on Mike Phillips after halting the scrum-half's charge in which he flattened opposite number Semenzato.

Then lock Santiago Dellape fell offside, allowing the Welsh 10 to give his side a 21-11 half-time lead.

Bergamasco was unable to do likewise after visiting skipper Matthew Rees' high tackle, his shot going wide.

But the Azzurri had the upper hand in the third quarter forward exchanges, their big ball-carriers up front causing big problems for Wales while underlining their superiority in the scrums.

Williams stole away with loose possession and kicked ahead only for Hook's follow-up hack to bounce into touch in goal.

As Italy pressed again the pressure on Wales' defence finally told for home skipper Sergio Parisse to hold off Jones' challenge and cross at the corner.

Wales' James Hook celebrates his late drop-goal
Wales' James Hook celebrates his late drop-goal against Italy in Rome

Bergamasco was again off target with the conversion, leaving them five points from the lead.

But Italy were at least able to revel in an attacking game that belied their reputation for being unable to profit anywhere other than up front.

There was relief for Wales when Castrogiovanni was penalised at a scrum deep in the visitors' 22, but a not-straight throw-in by Rees at a line-out 15 minutes from time reminded Wales they remained vulnerable.

Rees' mistake led to the scrum penalty which replacement fly-half Luciano Orquera also failed to convert.

Wales were under pressure throughout most of the second period, but it was to no avail as, in a rare moment in Italy territory, their forwards gave Hook enough time and space to drop the goal that allowed them to hold out.


Italy: Luke McLean, Andrea Masi, Gonzalo Canale, Alberto Sgarbi, Mirco Bergamasco; Kristopher Burton, Fabio Semenzato; Salvatore Perugini, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Santiago Dellape, Quintin Geldenhuys, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse (capt).
Replacements: Andrea Lo Cicero (for Perugini, 40; Perugini for Castrogivanni, 71), Valerio Bernabo (for Dellape 52), Manoa Vosawai (for Barbieri, 72), Pablo Canavosio (for Semenzato, 71), Luciano Orquera (for Burton, 67), Tommaso Benvenuti (for Masi, 74).
Unused: Carlo Festuccia.

Wales: Lee Byrne; Morgan Stoddart, James Hook, Jamie Roberts, Shane Williams; Stephen Jones, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Matthew Rees (capt), Craig Mitchell, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Ryan Jones.
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (for Rees, 78).
Unused: John Yapp, Jonathan Thomas, Josh Turnbull, Tavis Knoyle, Rhys Priestland, Leigh Halfpenny.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (IRFU).

Touch judges: Dave Pearson (RFU) & John Lacey (RFU).

TV: Iain Ramage (SRU)

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see also
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Wales 19-26 England
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Rugby union on the BBC
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BBC Sport Wales coverage
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