Wales send Hansen off in style
March 27, 2004
Rhys Williams celebrates after scoring for Wales
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Wales finish their RBS Six Nations on a high, beating an uninspired and tired looking Italy 44-10.
The Welsh players could not have hoped to give their departing coach Steve Hansen a better send off.
A high flying Welsh team took control from the first minute and exciting work by the backs, inspirational play by captain Colin Charvis, and cool control by Stephen Jones gave Wales a solid platform from which to build, grow and pile on the points.
Welsh confidence grew by the minute and perfectly timed passing and off-loads by Iestyn Harris put Welsh players into holes and created attacking opportunities. At half time Wales' 16-0 advantage could have been considerably bigger if they had they not been let down by the evident weaknesses that have dogged their set pieces throughout the tournament.
Italy struggled to get a slice of the action and apart from a brief fifteen minute spell at the start of the second half where they managed to raise their game. Under pressure, the Welsh gave away three penalty opportunities in quick succession but De Marigny only managed to slot one.
The Azzuri were unable to match the Welsh fury and failed to turn their normally solid set pieces to their advantage. Poor out of hand kicking by De Marigny gave Wales the chance to launch dangerous and costly counter attacks.
Rampant Wales finished with six tries to Italy's one. Stephen Jones opened the Welsh point deluge with a couple of penalties. In the 26th minutes Shane Williams chose to go it alone and squeezed the ball over the line for the first of his two tries.
From then on there was no holding back the Welsh roll. Rhys Williams on the other wing turned on the speed for two tries, one in each half. Much to the delight of an ecstatic Millennium stadium Gareth Thomas powered his way over in the 56th minute for his record breaking 34th try.
Man of the match Iestyn Harris was taken off in the second half only for replacement Shanklin to be put through by McBride with his first touch of the ball to score again for Wales. In the 64th minute Andrea Masi's strength and momentum took him over the line for Italy's second only try of the tournament.
Wales ended their Six Nations campaign in style, looking sharp, confident and buoyant. New coach Mike Ruddock has a solid platform from which to build and Wales has hopes for a bright future. Italy, it would seem, is back to the drawing board.