Italy v Wales: minute-by-minute report gives you all the news, views and nonsense from Stadio Flaminio. Get involved by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org, or tweet him @Timwellspent.
By Tim Hart
Published: 2pm 12 February 2011
Full-time: Italy 16-24 Wales
16.24: So Wales have ended the curse. They’ve beaten Italy in Rome in a World Cup year. Does that mean anything more than today’s victory? Probably not, other than the fact they shouldn’t finish bottom of the table.
16.22: It’s now three defeats for Italy who look odds on to get the wooden spoon for the ninth time in 12 Six Nations campaigns.
16.19: A win’s a win but Wales weren’t very convincing. They’ll have to stamp out the errors if they want to get results against Ireland and France.
Full-time: Italy 16-24 Wales
16.16: Wales now have the chance to score with a scrum midway in Italy’s half. Surprisingly Fabio Semenzato has won man of the match. I would have given it to Parisse. By far the most consistent player on the pitch.
16.15: McLean tries to find a way through but the ball’s recycled and comes to Bergamasco who loses the ball. Stephen Jones kicks the ball down field and Vosawai carries it forward. He’s one big Fijian!
16.14: Two minutes to go and Wales are more than a converted try ahead. As long as they keep their discipline they should get the win.
16.12: Italy take the penalty and Canale gets on the outside of Hook and breaks down the wing, the ball goes to Bergamasco but he’s tackled and spills the ball. It’s now a Wales scrum. Richard Hibbard comes on for Rees at hooker.
Italy engage too early in the scrum and give away a free-kick. Jones kicks it into touch.
16.11: A loose ball from Italy sees Morgan Stoddart in a foot race Benvenuti. If he gets there he’ll get a try but Stoddart nudges Benvenuti and concedes the penalty. Bergamasco’s short fuse is tested as he has a few words for Stoddart.
16.09: Italy come forward again and are on the edge of Wales’ 22. Perugini, Parisse and bernabo push the Azzurri forward but Wales are defending like Trojans.
16.08: But a poor kick from Byrne just shows a lack of concentration. Tommaso Benvenuti has come on for Andrea Masi in the Italian backs.
16.06: Wales are in Italy’s 22 for the first time in about 20 minutes. They must make this count. The ball’s gone to Hook and he kicks the drop goal. That’s a great relief for Wales. Italy 16-24 Wales. A little bit of breathing space.
16.04: Semenzato and Castrogiovanni have gone off with Perugini coming back on along with Pablo Canavasio.
16.03: The ball goes back to Hook who kicks it straight to McLean. Wales aren’t thinking, they’re just punting it anywhere and inviting Italy to make attack after attack.
16.02: Italy have had 51% possession and 72% territory this half. They’ve dominated and are looking dangerous again. Valerio Bernabo, the sub, runs forward and the ball is now recycled to Canale. But a stunning tackle from Stephen Jones has won possession back for Wales.
16.01: Wales must gather themselves and look to get a few more points on the board but they’re looking too pedestrian in their own half and not clinical enough in the Italian half.
15.59: Burton has been replaced by Luciano Orquera for Italy. And the fly-half’s first duty is to kick at goal for three points. It’s about 45 metres out but if he gets it it’ll put Italy to within two points. Fortunately for Wales it sails just wide of the left post. You have to take those opportunities at this level.
15.58: 15 minutes to go and five points in it. Can Wales hold on and get the win? It’s not looking good at the moment.
15.57: Wales have just not had any fluency in this half. Shaun Edwards looks concerned. Both teams have made 10 errors each so far. Not the best quality match but it has been engrossing.
15.55: Masi collects the ball in Wales’ half but he’s isolated and the reds steel it back. A poor kick though just gives possession right back and McLean clears the ball to the half-way line for a Wales throw. However, it wasn’t straight and Italy have the scrum.
15.53: But Wales, when right up against it, have a great scrum and win a penalty. Castrogiovanni is flummoxed by that decision.
15.51: Italy continue to dominate in the scrum and Semenzato comes flying forward and knocks Phillips to the ground. There’s just a bit of fury on the pitch at the moment. Wales steel the ball back but concede another stupid penalty. Bergamasco will surely go for goal, or will he? He’s kicked it into the corner. Maybe his confidence has gone. The crowd have all of a sudden got really loud and Wales are penalised again as Ryan Jones makes a tackle on Zanni while he’s still in the air. Italy opt for the scrum, hardly surprising, they’ve been so dominant.
15.50: James Hook comes from deep but Italy are slowing them up and Wales make another error to give away another scrum. It’s been a frustrating and frantic second-half.
15.48: The Azzurri are now alive. Ghiraldini takes the line-out and Zanni wins it. Parisse breaks clear with it and the ball is recycled to Lo Cicero. Italy continue to creep forward and the ball goes to Masi, then Parisse again. Italy’s forwards are playing really well and the home team have a great fluidity all of a sudden. But a blue shirt knocks the ball forward and Wales are on the counter. Shane Williams takes it, sprints forward, does a grubber but can’t reach it and Italy opt for a 22 drop-out.
15.47: Italy win another penalty from a scrum. The Welsh have seriously struggled and I can’t remember the last time I’ve said that about their pack.
15.45: Wales have the ball back and are trying to move forward but the Italian defence frustrates them again. It’s now a scrum to Italy.
15.43: If this isn’t given there could be a riot. Thank goodness for that. The Welsh will get out alive as Wayne Barnes awards the try. Bergamasco takes the conversion which he also misses. He’s been terrible today when it comes to the kicking. Italy 16-21 Wales
15.41: The ball at the breakdown is very slow for Wales and aren’t getting anywhere. Italy steel it and capitalise. Sergio Parisse gets the ball and runs over to score a try. Stephen Jones and Mike Phillips try to stop Parisse but the Italian jumps to his feet pumping his fist. Once again the decision is being referred to TMO Iain Ramage.
15.39: We’ve got a pause here as Santiago Dellape needs some patching up. The game finally resumes with the scrum. And Byrne kicks the ball down field but it goes straight to McLean.
Mike Phillips now tries to break through but is blocked by two Italy forwards. Jamie Roberts is the next to be clattered. Wales are keeping possession but Italy’s defence is holding strong.
15.36: Italy have a nice fluid move with passes from Burton to Sgarbi to Canale but Wales hold the attack up 10 metres from the line. Italy are in the ascendancy here; they’re applying some good pressure. Wales, though, continue to deny Italy and the away team now have a scrum.
15.35: Italy now have a penalty after Matthew Rees gave it away cheaply with a stupid high tackle. Bergamasco can now get the three points but it’s a big kick. And he fails to make it. There was no line or length on that kick and Wales maintain their 10-point lead.
15.34: Luke McLean now tries to make something happen on the half-way line but there’s some great defending there by Craig Mitchell.
15.33: A shockingly bad line-out from Italy sees Wales on the counter. Hook is denied but Phillips passes it to Lydiate. The ball’s recycled to Hook who gives it to Phillips and he spills. Italy regain the ball and Masi punts it clear.
15.32: But Wales let Italy off the hook as Paul James comes in from the side at a ruck to give away a penalty. Italy clear their lines.
15.31: Italy have already made an error with Luke McLean failing to hold on to the ball. Wales have the scrum and take the ball into the Italian corner with Dan Lydiate. He’s forced into touch and Wales now have another good chance.
15.30: Italy get us underway in the second-half. One change has been made for Italy. Andrea Lo Cicero has come on for Salvatore Perugini in the front row.
15.21: Amazingly Wales have conceded eight penalties so far. If they were more disciplined they would have an even bigger lead.
15.20: Italy will be kicking themselves after they failed to put that penalty into touch at the end of the first half. It now means Wales are 10 points clear at the break and looking comfortable.
15.18: Half-time score Italy 11-21 Wales
15.17: It’s another unconvincing line-out as two Italians collide and Wales now have a scrum. It’s their best scrum so far and Roberts takes the ball forward with the ball. Dellape is miles offside and Jones can get another three points. Italy 11-21 Wales
15.16: Italy now have an advantage as Wales strayed offside and the penalty is awarded. Mitchell was offside. A silly error and Italy can now have one more attack before the break. But Wales are let off as Italy’s penalty fails to make touch. And it’s an enormous kick from Lee Byrne. Italy have suddenly gone from being on the offensive to defending it.
15.13: So Italy survive on that occasion but Wales come forward again and get a penalty when Castrogiovanni failed to roll away. Jones will kick for the three points to extend Wales’ lead. And of course he does. Italy 11-18 Wales
15.11: It’s the right call but I’ve seen them go the other way in the past. Byrne and the fans can’t believe it. It’s saved the blushes of the Italian defence who were all over the place. I can guarantee there will be more Welsh tries in this match. But it’s now a penalty to Italy after Wales are penalised at another scrum. Can’t even tell why that one was given.
15.08: Wales win the line-out and now have the ball in a maul. Mike Phillips gives the ball to Matthew Rees and Wales pass it out to Stephen Jones. It’s recycled to Hook, who gives it to Williams and he off loads it to Byrne who breaks through to score! But no, the touch judge says Williams’ pass to Byrne was forward.
15.07: Italy have slowed it down and are now trying to punch their way through. They nearly set up the drop goal but the pass to Burton wasn’t quite good enough. Italy continue to try to find a way through but Byrne just thumps that ball clear and Wales now have a line-out about five metres from Italy’s line. Exciting stuff this.
15.05: It’s an Italy scrum and Wales concede a penalty for not binding properly. So the Azzurri clear the ball. Wales have created a couple of good overlaps which they haven’t capitalised on. Italy are now attacking with confidence and Semenzato goes forward. Lee Byrne eventually smothers the ball out for an Italy line-out about five metres from the Welsh line. This is a big line-out. It’s a safe take from Dellape and Italy keep it alive.
15.03: Wales are looking to respond straight away and great play by Shane Williams creates an overlap but they’re denied for now. The ball comes out to Williams again who tries a long ball out to the wing but that’s easy for Italy to stop. It’s just a little lateral.
15.02: And that’s indeed the call. Italy have a penalty after a Welsh player was judged to have come in from the side. It was Morgan Stoddart’s try-saving tackle which held up Zanni. Bergamasco now has a simple penalty to make it Italy 11-15 Wales.
15.01: This taking quite a while and there’s talk of an Italy penalty. Not sure why but I’m not complaining if that’s the case.
14.58: A well-worked line-out from Italy sees them surge into Wales’ 22. It comes to Zanni and Bergamasco picks it up a couple of metres from the line but they’re being held up. They eventually go with Zanni over to cheers from the crowd but it’s being referred to the TMO. It looks like a clear try to me but the officials aren’t so sure.
14.56: Italy’s Leonardo Ghiraldini takes a line-out which is Italy’s best by far and they’re now looking to attack. A couple of loose passes but Italy have kept the ball. Alessandro Zanni carries the ball forward and it’s now with Luke McLean. Italy still have the ball and are in the 11th phase. Roberts puts in a crunching tackle but Perugini does well to keep the ball. Italy now have a penalty as Wales didn’t allow them to release at the breakdown.
14.54: Wales keep the ball and is brought forward by Ryan Jones. We’re going into a series of rucks on the edge of Italy’s 22 but Bradley Davies is isolated and Italy win a penalty when he fails to release.
14.53: There’s a slight pause now as we get ready for a scrum. Shane Williams is needing some treatment. The wing is looking a bit red in the face and puffing for air but he should continue. Scrum to Wales. Let’s see what happens here.
14.52: Another Italy line-out in Wales’ half and it wasn’t convincing yet again and Wales eventually clear it down field. Italy are having a lot of the ball at he moment but can’t do anything with it. Surely Wales will take advantage of this in a minute.
14.51: But Italy’s line-out was poor as Bradley Davies steels it. It was something that let them down against England too. Wales gather the ball and Byrne clears the ball down field but it’s straight down Luke McLean’s throat.
14.50: Italy have a penalty after Sam Warburton was judged to have gone in with a high tackle. Italy kick the ball into touch just outside Wales’ 22.
14.48: There’s a question about whether there was a block in the build up to Wales’ second try but the referee didn’t spot it and nobody complained so Wales seem to have got lucky on that one. Great try nonetheless.
14.47: Not one Italy player got close to a red shirt in the build up to that try. Wales’ backline are ripping Italy to shreds so far when they get the ball. Williams must be licking his lips to get a chance.
14.46: What a try for Wales. Great run by Byrne and an even better offload to Hook who runs through and passes it to Warburton who runs in under the posts. Jones has an easy conversion. That’s Warburton’s first try for Wales. It’s now Italy 8-15 Wales.
14.45: Italy have now ventured into Wales’ 22 twice and on both occasions have got points. It’s something they’ve not been doing this Championship so far.
14.44: Bergamasco now lines up the penalty from wide out on the left to draw Italy level. And he does. Italy 8-8 Wales.
14.43: Italy have the ball and are threatening. Wales have it back with Stoddart in the Welsh 22 but he’s penalised for holding on to the ball while on the ground at the ruck. Good work by Italy to force the penalty.
Ryan Jones, meanwhile, is struggling with a shoulder injury and is having some treatment. He’s going to continue but he looks a bit ginger.
14.41: This game could be highly entertaining judging by the opening 10 minutes!
14.40: See what I mean, Morgan Stoddart has gone over the line to score, or has he? The touch judge says it has to go to the TMO, Iain Ramage. The replays show it has to be given. In fact Stephen Jones is so confident he’s lining up the conversion and the try has been awarded eventually. Jones misses the conversion, quite a poor one so it’s now Italy 5-8 Wales.
14.38: Wales are trying to regroup; after such a bright start they now look a little cagey. But the ever-reliable Lee Byrne claims the ball on the halfway line and Wales are back on the attack as they take a quick penalty. I’ve got a feeling this is going to be a high-scoring game.
14.35: Wales are looking so bright with Craig Mitchell now on the charge. The ball comes to James Hook who tries the up and under but that’s a poor choice and let Italy get the ball. And all of a sudden Italy are on the counter and Gonzalo Canale runs half the pitch and holds off Bradley Davies to get Italy the try. Poor play by Wales. Bradley Davies’ loose pass was mopped up by Andrea Masi and Canale got the five points. Mirco Bergamasco misses the relatively easy converion. Italy 5-3 Wales.
14.34: Italy 0-3 Wales – solid start for Wales.
14.33: Wales still have the ball and are creeping forward and Italy give away the penalty after Italy failed to release. Stephen Jones now has the opportunity to extend his scoring tally to 873 points, which he does.
14.32: Wales now have the ball, good catch by Lee Byrne and it’s taken out wide to Jamie Roberts who steams into the Italian defence. Gonzalo Canale is left on the ground from that tackle with Roberts but he does eventually get uup.
14.31: Wales have kick-off and England’s Wayne Barnes is the referee. Jones takes the kick and Italy claim it. The first minute is in Italy’s 22 as they try to run with the ball before it’s finally cleared.
14.29: It’s a glorious day in Rome as it is here in Cardiff. There’s now a minutes silence for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake, which is being excellently respected.
14.26: The teams are lining up and they’re singing the anthems. Can’t wait for this to begin now!
14.25: It’s alright for some; I’m in the Cardiff newsroom (not complaining, mind!)
14.23: Warren Gatland is looking and sounding confident ahead of the match. Nick Mallett, however, seems a little more downbeat and realistic. I guess that’s the only way you can be after Italy were thumped by England.
14.19: And I can’t believe there has not been a mention for Stephen Jones yet who will be making his 98th appearance for Wales today. Jones moves alongside Martyn Williams in second place on Wales’ all-time appearance list. And with such a busy year coming he’s bound to go over the 100 cap mark and surpass Gareth Thomas’ record.
14.15: Possibly the fact of the day is that Wales have never won in Rome in a World Cup year. Can they defy history today? Fingers crossed!
14.10: Just went for a little break before the match kicks off and come back to discover Twitter is playing up. My life just stopped still! How sad is that? I’ve been reliably informed it should be back up and running soon.
Also I forgot to say Happy Birthday to Shane Williams, who’s 34 today.
14.00: This could be a big day for Shane Williams too. He’s two tries away from equalling Ian Smith’s international championship career record of 24 touchdowns. He’s now nine tries away from David Campese’s world record of 64.
And Williams loves playing against Italy. He’s scored nine tries in eight test matches against them and has not failed to score against them since 2006.
13.53: Although there’s a lot of optimism going into this match neither team is in prolific form. In fact both sides have won just one game each in their last nine respective games. Italy beat Fiji in the Autumn internationals while Wales’ victory, of course, came against Scotland a fortnight ago.
13.45: We’re getting a mixed reaction on our Facebook page about who you think is going to win today. Margaret Jones reckons Wales will win 24-10 but Stephen Keeler thinks Italy will just edge it, 22-21. What do you think? Join the debate.
13.36: Today is a milestone for James Hook who will be making his 50th appearance for Wales. Hook is playing in his third different position this Championship. He started at full-back against England, fly-half in the Scotland match and will be at centre for today’s clash. Just call him Mr Versatility.
13.30: Wales will be confident going into this match after they beat Scotland 24-6 at Murrayfield two weeks ago. But Warren Gatland knows Wales cannot take Italy for granted.
One of them was that record-winning match in 2003 which the Azzurri won 30-22. And the other came four years later when Wales lost 23-20.
13.22: What do you think the score is going to be today? I’m hoping it’s going to be something like Wales’ record victory against the Italians in 1999. With Graham Henry at the helm Wales won 60-21. It will need to be that high a scoreline so I have a chance to win the newsroom Six Nations sweepstake.
The 39-point margin in that 1999 victory is Wales’ record victory over the Italians along with the 47-8 win three years ago.
Italy’s biggest win against Wales came in 2003 when they won 30-22.
13.08: Ahead of flying out with his team for the Italy match Wales Captain Mathew Rees spent some time with the club at where it all started for him, Tonyrefail.
The Wales hooker took time out from training to take the clubs next generation of talent through their paces. We caught up with him to get his take on the year ahead, the captaincy and his rugby inspirations.
13.00: 90 minutes to kick off and the atmosphere is really hotting up in the Eternal City. This is the 18th meeting between the two countries and Wales lead the series 14-2, with the other match a draw.
Italy: 15-Luke McLean, 14-Andrea Masi, 13-Gonzalo Canale, 12-Alberto Sgarbi, 11-Mirco Bergamasco, 10- Kristopher Burton, 9- Fabio Semenzato; 1-Salvatore Perugini, 2-Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3-Martin Castrogiovanni, 4- Santiago Dellape, 5-Quintin Geldenhuys, 6-Alessandro Zanni, 7- Robert Barbieri, 8-Sergio Parisse.
Replacements: 16-Carlo Festuccia, 17-Andrea Lo Cicero, 18-Valerio Bernabo, 19- Manoa Vosawai, 20- Pablo Canavosio, 21-Luciano Orquera, 22- Tommaso Benvenuti
Wales: 15-Lee Byrne, 14-Morgan Stoddart, 13-James Hook, 12-Jamie Roberts, 11-Shane Williams, 10-Stephen Jones, 9-Mike Phillips; 1-Paul James, 2-Matthew Rees (captain), 3-Craig Mitchell, 4-Bradley Davies, 5-Alun Wyn Jones, 6-Dan Lydiate, 7-Sam Warburton, 8-Ryan Jones.
Replacements: 16-Richard Hibbard, 17-John Yapp, 18-Jonathan Thomas, 19-Josh Turnbull, 20-Tavis Knoyle, 21-Rhys Priestland, 22-Leigh Halfpenny.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (IRE)
Touch judges: Dave Pearson (ENG) & John Lacey (ENG)
TV: Iain Ramage (SCO)