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Sport

Wales beat Italy to set up Grand Slam clash with France

Text by News Wires

Latest update : 2012-03-10

Wales overcame a dogged Italy side 24-3 in Saturday's Six Nations clash in Cardiff to keep alive their hopes of winning a third Grand Slam in eight years. Wales now need to beat France in next week's final round of matches to claim the title.

AP - Wales stayed on course for the Grand Slam by beating Italy 24-3 in the Six Nations despite an unconvincing performance at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.

Wales dominated possession and territory but was only 9-3 ahead until center Jamie Roberts sprinted 80 meters and touched down 10 minutes into the second half.

Leigh Halfpenny added the conversion to his three first-half penalties and Wales was in control. Rhys Priestland kicked another penalty and wing Alex Cuthbert added a second try late on when he fended off a prop and scrambled over in the corner.

With four wins from four, Wales hosts France in next week’s final round aiming for its third Grand Slam in eight seasons.

The match could have been very different had Italy not spurned the chance to kick at goal with the score at 6-3. Optimistic of a breakthrough, The Italians opted to kick for a lineout near the Welsh line and, although they just hung on to the ball at the throw, there was no momentum for a catch and drive and they turned over possession almost immediately after.

Halfpenny soon stretched the home side’s lead with a penalty awarded against Simone Favaro for sealing the ball off at the ruck and the chance was gone.

Wales’ domination merited the lead even if they failed to create clear openings.

The Welsh completed 104 passes to 17 by Italy in the opening 40 minutes and forced the visitors into 86 first-half tackles, making only 10 themselves. Captain and No. 8 Sergio Parisse denied Halfpenny a try in the corner with a last-ditch tackle but that was as close as either team came to crossing before the break.

The breakthrough came with Wales under sustained pressure for the first time early in the second half.

The ball came to Rhys Priestland from a turnover and the flyhalf straightened up and slipped a pass to Roberts, who cut inside to exploit a gap between hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini and winger Mirco Bergamasco. The center sprinted away and touched down under the posts.

Halfpenny added the extras and Priestland’s kicked seemed to have completed the scoring until Cuthbert, who had enjoyed little positive ball to work with, darted out right, pushed away from Fabio Staibano and went over in the corner despite the efforts of Giulio Toniolatti and Luke McLean.

Halfpenny was yellow-carded midway through the second-half for taking out Parisse in the air, the fifth straight match that Wales has been reduced to 14 men, but his teammates held out untroubled during his absence.

 

Date created : 2012-03-10

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