Wales run riot against Italy
March 2, 2002
Dafydd James dives in to score in the corner
© Getty Images
Wales swamped Italy with a scintillating display of rugby in the Lloyds TSB Six Nations Championship at the Millennium Stadium.
Scott Quinnell crashed through unchallenged midway through the second half to make the match safe for Wales and after that they were content to make substitutions.
There were plenty of empty seats at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium as Wales tried to rescue their season from total disaster in today's Lloyds TSB Six Nations match against Italy.
Tickets for the match were on sale around the city right up to kick-off time - an indication of the current state of the Welsh game. A number of players were undoubtedly putting their reputations and international futures on the line, in a clash of two sides without a win between them in this season's championship.
Wales took just 93 seconds to prise open Italy at the Millennium Stadium. After centre Tom Shanklin's crash tackle turned the ball over in midfield fly-half Stephen Jones hoisted a high kick and, with Italy in total disarray, centre Andy Marinos collected and made the break to send left wing Craig Morgan away. He kicked ahead and won the race with full-back Gert Peens to touch down. James added the conversion.
Italy struck back in the fifth minute when fly-half Ramiro Pez, from English Division One leaders Rotherham, marked his call-up in place of the injured Diego Dominguez, by landing a penalty from out on the left.
Scott Quinnell and Howley combined to put Italy under pressure again but Pez cleared his lines with a 50-metre kicked to touch.
Wales were showing an adventurous willingness to throw the ball around and when flanker Nathan Budgett was tackled by Pez after a solo run down the left he flicked the ball up for right wing Dafydd James, in support on the opposite flank, to race 30 metres unchallenged for the 12th-minute try which Jones converted.
James looked to have scored again when he dived over in the corner on his own wing but was ruled to have just put his foot in touch.
Jones kicked a penalty to stretch the Wales lead to 17-3 in the 18 minute. But, just as they looked to be heading for a big defeat, Italy rallied. Full-back Gert Peens and prop Giampaero de Carli were both tackled just short of the line during a sustained spell of Italian pressure but scrum-half Alessandro Troncon worked the ball back for number eight Carlo Checchinato to force his way over and Pez added the kick to cut the deficit to seven points.
Jones made it four kicks from four attempts with a 40-metre penalty in the 24th minute and eight minutes later when Italy were awarded a penalty on the half-way line they changed their kicker.
Long-range expert Peens took over from Pez, who had been successful with both his first-half attempts, and landed his kick with ease.
The second half was only four minutes old when Rhys Williams, who had substituted for Shanklin midway through the first half, had the fans singing with a sparkling try.
Craig Morgan crossed into the Italian half, turned the ball inside for Jones who, as he pivoted, fed Williams. The Cardiff replacement swerved away from the two Italians before winning the 45-metre dash to the line.
Jones added the conversion but suffered his first miss in seven attempts when he just failed with a penalty from halfway.
Italy withdrew their giant prop de Carli and then had flanker Aaron Persico sinbinned in the 51 minute for a technical infringement.
Wales took immediate advantage as Scott Quinnell crashed through unchallenged to dive over near the post and Jones again added the conversion.
With the game in the bag Wales sent on Dwaine Peel and Chris Wyatt for scrum-half Howley and second row Gough.
It was becoming a rout and Marinos joined the scoring spree with his first try for Wales after Williams and James exchanged passes. Jones was again on target with the kick.
Wales made another double substitution, sending on Iestyn Harris and Barry Williams for Morgan and McBryde in the 59 minute before replacing skipper Quinnell with Brett Sinkinson four minutes later.
Replacement Francesco Mazzariol scored a consolation try in the right-hand corner for Italy after 74 minutes, with Peens converting.
Wales made yet another substitution, sending on Spencer John for prop Chris Anthony and then Italy's notorious indiscipline cost them the chance to further reduce the arrears.
They were stretching Wales as they moved the ball across the field when they were brought back, belatedly, after a touch judge spotted their huge loose forward Carlo Checchinato stamping.
The offence did not look a serious one and referee Chris White settled for simply having a word with skipper Moscardi but it almost certainly cost them points.
Martin Gillingham looks ahead to what he believes is the most remarkable ever climax to the league phase of the Top 14
With just two rounds left in the regular season, we look at the prospects of the teams taking part in the Championship play-offs
Joe Simpson talks to Charlie Morgan about loss, Wasps and being England's game-breaker