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Killer instinct pleases Wales coach Warren Gatland

Valerio Bernabo of Italy tackles Ryan Jones of Wales

Highlights: Italy 16-24 Wales

Coach Warren Gatland hailed the killer instinct that brought Wales a 24-16 Six Nations victory over Italy in Rome.

Gatland had dubbed Wales "diseased" for being unable to show such a quality in previous tight games.

But Wales set up a late James Hook drop-goal at Stadio Flaminio to end the Azzurri challenge.

"We showed a little bit of composure there and a bit of professionalism that we haven't sometimes in the past achieved," said Gatland.

"So that was perhaps the most important point."

Wales led 21-11 at the break after first-half tries by wing Morgan Stoddart and flanker Sam Warburton.

Sam Warburton

Warburton try puts Wales in control

But Italy crossed first through Gonzalo Canale while skipper Sergio Parisse went over on 52 minutes as the hosts largely dominated after the break.

Wales' defence held firm in the face of Italy's second-half surges and Gatland says being able to see off that home pressure augurs well for the future.

"I think we were under a bit of pressure at the end there and we dug deep," he said.

"You're in front and you go down there and you take an opportunity and [we] have taken our three points and have put that outside the seven [points Italy needed to win] so that's probably for me the most pleasing thing."

However, Gatland was less impressed by the way in which his side went about their business early on, particularly when lock Bradley Davies threw a poor pass that led to Canale's try.

Gatland also felt Lee Byrne was unlucky not to have been awarded a second-half try when Shane Williams' pass was judged forward.

606: DEBATE
alyn davies

He said: "We made it hard for ourselves by gifting them a couple of tries. I thought the one that the touch judge called for the forward pass was very unlucky - I thought it was there.

"But we came under a bit of pressure and have gone down and got ourselves a drop-goal.

"So it was a tough game. It's a tough place to come and get a win.

"In particular they've got a very strong scrum and we probably tried to play a little bit too much rugby in the first half rather than get the go-forward.

"But we've come here, we've won and it's pleasing to get the result.

"We looked industrious to start with, but we've thrown a stupid pass and conceded five points after starting well and again the second try as well was soft points for them and that's made it difficult for ourselves.

"You try and play a bit of rugby and you've got to look at the scoreboard as well so that you get the win and get the result, but we've made it tough for ourselves."

Italy were also denied a score by Scottish video ref Iain Ramage when flanker Alessandro Zanni's touchdown was deemed to have been prevented by Stoddart.

We regretted not holding on to the ball more in the first 20 minutes - we had two tries scored against us from errant kicks

Sergio Parisse

They also suffered in kicking at goal with Mirco Bergamasco missing three penalty attempts and replacement fly-half Luciano Orquera knocking one wide.

Azzurri coach Nick Mallett said: "We created enough opportunities.

"I thought we were over the line with Alessandro Zanni in the first-half, we missed four important kicks and spent almost all the whole 40 minutes of the second period in Wales' half.

"It was disappointing but I am very pleased with the players. It was a completely different performance from the England game.

"We regretted not holding on to the ball more in the first 20 minutes - we had two tries scored against us from errant kicks.

"The new laws give much greater opportunity to sides to hold on to possession, and it doesn't make sense to kick the ball away all the time."

Parisse defended wing Bergamasco, who failed with both conversion attempts and a penalty.

"Maybe we don't have a Diego Dominguez [Italy's record international points scorer]," said the captain.

"But Mirco is working hard and we will keep him as our kicker."

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see also
Italy 16-24 Wales
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Italy v Wales stats
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Italy v Wales photos
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Six Nations week three as it happened
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Scotland 6-24 Wales
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England 59-13 Italy
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Rugby union on the BBC
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