The 'unlucky' thirteenth game was between Wales and Italy, both were playing primarily for pride. Italy had a humiliating game against France (where they showed real flare in the last ten minutes), and Wales lost to badly to Ireland. Both teams needed to avoid the prospect of the Wooden Spoon.
Going into the fourth match, Wales were in fourth place and Italy fifth. The loser would be in fifth position and with a good performance, Scotland could overtake them. Neither team could hope to reach third place.
Kick off was at 2:30pm.
The Italians started off brightly, with much more promise, and threatened the Welsh line within the first few minutes. Gower went for a drop goal, but kicked wide.
It was six minutes until the Welsh made a decent attack, Prydie chipped the ball down the line, but Italy defended and the attack failed. Wales won the subsequent scrum, passed wide, and the Welsh inched closer to the line to win a penalty. Stephen Jones kicked it over for three points. 3-0 to Wales.
In the 13th minute, Bergamasco failed to kick a penalty, with the ball bouncing from the posts. The subsequent play lead to some tension between a couple of players, with a little shoving and shirt pulling. This could have flared up, but diffused almost as quickly as it started.
Wales became more attacking, spending more time in the Italian half, and in the 21st minute they won a penalty as the Italians did not release following a tackle. Stephen Jones scored, 6-0 to Wales.
Michael Phillips made a good break, and was brought down just before the Italian 22. The Welsh kept the ball and drove down the left five metre line, the ball came back central, and the Welsh turned the ball over to Italy, who, with an advantage, kicked the ball away.
The Welsh attacked again, and this broke down metres from the line where Bergamasco claimed the ball, passing it to a team-mate who duly cleared it.
The Welsh returned, again applying pressure - a try seemed inevitable, and after sustained pressure, Phillips pushed through an extra metre or two then Jenkins and Rees got within a metre or two of the line. Alun Jones gathered the ball, and resulting the pile of bodies straddled the line. With a Welsh advantage, the ball came out and Thomas passed to Jones, to Hook and then to Lee Byrne who seemed to make the final break to score. However, it was from a forward pass and the try was (rightly) disallowed to the disbelief of the crowd and the Welsh team.
In the 32nd minute, Stephen Jones kicked another penalty to bring the score to 9-0.
James Hook was on for what could have been the try of the weekend, the ball went forward and Hook chased, but Italy did just enough to prevent the try. A five metre scrum followed, which failed, with advantage to Wales. Wales opted for a penalty kick, and the score reached 12-0, where it stayed until half time.
At about eight minutes into the second half, it was heart in the mouth time for Italy, a clearing kick from behind the try-line was charged down by Charteris, but the player tripped and Italy put the ball down.
Soon after, Hook stumbled over the line, and Stephen Jones converted. 19-0.
There were tensions between Italy and Wales, lots of aggravation. The referee issued a warning, and then Mirco Bergamasco had a little go at the Welsh scrum half, he was sin-binned. Soon after, Wales created a hole for James Hook to run through to make a comfortable try . Stephen Jones again converts, and the score became 26-0.
At the 67th minute, the newly returned Bergamasco kicked a penalty to the sound of whistles and boos - very unsporting, especially with such a lead. I don't like this trend of booing and whistling at all. 26-3 to Wales.
Almost immediately, there was an excellent piece of play from Wales, running from the halfway line, offloading to bring the ball to within inches of the line. Shane Williams got the ball and took it over, 33-3.
Italy had a good attack in the 73rd minute, it followed some good work from Bergmasco, but the Welsh stopped the initial attack, lead by Shane Williams. Italy kept the ball and passed it to the left, where McLean took it over the line. The first try for Italy was duly converted. 33-10.
In the 76th minute, Hook broke toward the Italian line, offloading to Warburton, who was just caught, tackled by one ankle.
With two minutes left on the clock, Italy went on the offensive, but McLean was pressured into touch. There was some aerial ping-pong in the last few minutes, as the clock went red, Italy put the ball out of play.
Italy is now in the position of depending upon Scotland to lose if they're to avoid the wooden spoon. Wales finish in fourth place.
|Table Built: Saturday, 20 March 2010 16:16 UK|