Wales 21-24 Italy: Azzurri condemn Warren Gatland’s side to winless Six Nations campaign

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Wales’ 24-21 defeat to Italy in Cardiff condemned them to their first Six Nations wooden spoon since 2003, with head coach Warren Gatland offering to resign in the immediate aftermath.

Gatland’s proposal was rejected by Welsh Rugby Union chief executive Abi Tierney and the New Zealander is now looking forward to lifting his side from “rock bottom” after five losses from five.

The New Zealander said: “I just said to Abi [Tierney] in the changing room if you want me to resign, I’m quite happy to do that. She said ‘like hell, that’s the last thing I want, that’s what I’m really afraid of’.

“I can promise you we’ll go away and review this really carefully. [We’ll] work on areas that need to improve.

“We’re probably at rock bottom. We’re hurting as coaches and players. I know the fans are hurting.

“It doesn’t help, but I can see light at the end of the tunnel because we’ve got a fantastic group of guys who I know have worked hard.”

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Lorenzo Pani’s sheer speed was on show as he went over for the first try of the second half

Italy show competitive edge as Wales end with wooden spoon

​​​​​​Italy took early control of the first 40 through two penalties from the boot of Paolo Garbisi, and an unconverted Monty Ioane effort secured an 11-0 advantage at half-time.

Wales knew they had hard work to do in the second half but Italy’s attacking flair once again proved too much, Lorenzo Pani adding a sublime individual effort to increase his side’s lead to 18-0.

The home side hit back with just over 15 minutes remaining as Elliot Dee powered over for a converted effort from close range to bring the score to 18-7, but penalties from Martin Page-Role and Garbisi with around 10 minutes remaining extended Italy’s advantage to 24-7.

Paolo Garbisi of Italy is tackled by Dafydd Jenkins of Wales  (Getty Images)
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Paolo Garbisi gave his side a solid lead from his boot

Will Rowlands and Mason Grady hit back for Wales in the dying minutes, Sam Costelow converting to bring the score to 24-21, but it was too little too late as Italy achieved their second win of the 2024 tournament.

A frantic and fast-paced first 15 minutes was punctured by two penalties from the boot of Garbisi before Italy found a superb try after building the pressure on Wales, a small hit around the corner from Ioane after a raft of offloads giving the visitors an 11-0 lead.

Monty Ioane celebrates after scoring a first-half try against Wales
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Monty Ioane scored a brilliant effort to increase Italy’s lead in the first half

Wales tried to continue their strong work at the breakdown, but unforced errors cost them, and Italy looked comfortable with ball in hand.

After Italy let their penalty chances slip away, Wales were afforded a big chance at the end of the first 40 but instead of taking the three points on offer, they went for the lineout and an immediate knock-on once again dented their advances, Italy taking the 11-0 advantage in at the break.

Lorenzo Pani scores a try for Italy against Wales (Getty Images)
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Lorenzo Pani scored early on in the second half to give Italy more breathing room

Italy started the second half with a sensational try from Pani, who showed sheer speed down the right-hand side to step three defenders and finish in spectacular style, Garbisi converting to put his side 18-0 in front.

Score Summary: Wales 21-24 Italy:

Wales: Tries: Elliot Dee (64), Will Rowlands (79), Mason Grady (80+2); Conversions: Sam Costelow (67, 80, 80+3)

Italy: Tries: Monty Ioane (20), Lorenzo Pani (46); Conversions: Paolo Garbisi (5, 13, 47, 71), Martin Page Relo (73)

The home outfit tried to change the tide and build through phases, but Italy had control of the breakdown and made it count, cover tackles and individual efforts keeping Wales from crossing the whitewash.

Wales finally found their breakthrough with just over 15 minutes to go, building the phases for Dee to power over from short range with the penalty advantage in their favour, Costelow adding the extras to bring the score to 18-7.

Wales’s fightback was interrupted by Garbisi and Martin Page-Relo adding brilliant penalty conversions to extend Italy’s lead to 21-7 with less than 10 minutes to play, but then home side came again through Rowlands barrelling over, Costelow converting to bring the score to 24-14 with just over a minute to play.

With the clock in the red, Grady showed some incredible individual skill to break, grubber kick through, and go in under the sticks, but the converted effort came too late.

Wales’ Six Nations 2024 results

Saturday, February 3 Wales 26-27 Scotland
Saturday, February 10 England 16-14 Wales
Saturday, February 24 Ireland 31-7 Wales
Sunday, March 10 Wales 24-45 France
Saturday, March 16 Wales 21-24 Italy

Italy’s Six Nations 2024 results

Saturday, February 3 Italy 24-27 England
Sunday, February 11 Ireland 36-0 Italy
Sunday, February 25 France 13-13 Italy
Saturday, March 9 Italy 31-29 Scotland
Saturday, March 16 Wales 21-24 Italy

Lamaro: Italy want to achieve even more | Jenkins: Wales didn’t rise to the occasion

Italy captain Michele Lamaro, speaking to BBC Sport…

“It is everything for us and I want to thank every Italy fan that is here tonight. We know we have avoided the wooden spoon, had a good tournament, but we want to do even better.

“We have changed the mindset we go on to the pitch with. That is not something we had before and we have got lots of confidence.

“We still have to be a lot more consistent to compete with every team and get the respect. We went through lots of difficult moments so must enjoy the good ones.”

Wales captain Dafydd Jenkins to BBC Sport…

“It is complete disappointment. No disrespect to Italy but as a playing group we want to win those games and be better than those teams.

“You would like to think in pressure scenarios that we would rise to the occasion so we will have to look back and see if we did.

“With a loss, I don’t think we did.

“Thanks for sticking by us. This playing group will give everything so stick with us and the future is bright.

“We are going to have to get better as individuals and when we come back together as a group we will be in a better place.”

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