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Wales in morale-boosting Six Nations win over Italy

20 marca, 2010

Wales cruised to a convincing 33-10 Six Nations victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium.

James Hook crossed for a second-half brace of tries to ease Wales to only their second win of the championship and lift the pressure on head coach Warren Gatland.

Wing Shane Williams added a third try while fly-half Stephen Jones scored 18 points, including four penalties and three conversions in a 100 per cent kicking and man-of-the-match performance.

Italy fought to the death and were rewarded for their efforts when full-back Luke McLean touched down for a consolation score.

Wales coach Warren Gatland said that the victory had given them a confidence-boost ahead of a tough southern hemisphere tour of South Africa and his native New Zealand but said that all in all a fourth placed finish did not justify their real standing.

"It\'s been pretty frustrating and I felt we haven\'t played to our potential," said Gatland, who came into the match with a certain amount of pressure building on him.

"Our position doesn\'t reflect our quality but really we can take on any team in the world on level terms. Today (Saturday) we put on a professional performance and showed what we are capable of."

His Italy counterpart Nick Mallett was far from downcast at his side\'s defeat, compared to how he had felt after their 46-20 defeat by France last Sunday.

"I am not atall disappointed with this defeat," said the England-born naturalised South African.

"I am very proud of the team. I thought we were fantastic in defence and saved perhaps six to eight tries. We had players dropping like flies all over the pitch and we had already lost three players on Thursday."

Stephen Jones said that it had been nice to round off their campaign with such a performance.

"I am very pleased, because it was our most complete performance," said the 32-year-old.

"Shame it was the last match of the tournament but we are a good side and we know we can get things together. We just made too many errors in our earlier matches."

Tom Prydie became Wales\' youngest ever player, beating Norman Biggs 122-year record by 25 days.

And the 18-year-old showed no fear on his debut as the teenage wing was in the thick of the action from the kick-off.

Gatland had praised Prydie\'s physical attributes in training and he proved his ability with his first tackle on McLean after just 38 seconds.

Then the Ospreys young gun inflicted his first Test casualty with the help of Gethin Jenkins in s crunching hit to force Italian centre Gonzalo Canale off with a rib injury.

After a frantic opening, with Adam Jones also departed with a head wound Stephen Jones booted the home side into a ninth minute lead.

Bradley Davies became the third player to exit proceedings inside 15 minutes with concussion but the passion and commitment Gatland had asked for prior to the clash was met with an emphatic response when fit-again Jenkins and skipper Ryan Jones doubled up to stop McLean in his tracks.

Jones added a second penalty and after a period of sustained pressure, Wales appeared to have broken the try deadlock in the 28th minute.

But Lee Byrne saw his try disallowed by the officials following a forward pass from Shane Williams.

Wales nudged into a nine-point lead when Jones fired home a long-range penalty in the 32nd minute.

Jones handed Wales a 12-0 interval advantage with his fourth successful kick.

Italy had defended well in the opening period following a horror show in Paris six days earlier but Wales persistence finally paid off.

Byrne was foiled short of the line and after British Lions half-backs Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips combined, Hook fended off the tackle of replacement Tito Tebaldi to score a converted try in the left corner.

Italy then pressed the self-destruct button when Mauro Bergamasco was yellow carded in the 56th minute for coming in from the side.

Gatland\'s men took advantage instantly and Phillips and Jones fed Hook for a fine double under the posts.

Jones converted for a 26-0 lead before Mirco Bergamasco finally got Italy on the scoreboard with a penalty on 66 minutes.

Williams looked to have wrapped up the victory with a close-range score after neat build-up from Byrne, Tom Shanklin and Phillips before McLean added a late consolation for the visitors.