Support our Nation today - please donate here
Sport

Wales finish bottom of Six Nations as Italy win in Cardiff

16 Mar 2024 4 minute read
Wales’ Will Rowlands during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff. Joe Giddens/PA Wire.

Wales suffered the ignominy of a first Six Nations wooden spoon since 2003 after Italy posted a 24-21 victory over them in Cardiff.

Not even George North’s farewell appearance before international retirement – he suffered an injury late in the game and was helped off – could lift a dismal Wales effort in suffering a fifth successive Six Nations defeat this season and finishing bottom of the table.

It was a thoroughly deserved Italian win and came via tries from wing Monty Ioane and full-back Lorenzo Pani, with fly-half Paolo Garbisi kicking three penalties and a conversion and Martin Page-Relo landing a late penalty.

While Wales boss Warren Gatland has pleaded for patience as he embarks on an extensive post-World Cup rebuilding job, stark statistics cannot be avoided as late tries from Elliot Dee, Will Rowlands and Mason Grady, with Ioan Lloyd kicking two conversions and Sam Costelow one, provided scant consolation.

Wales have now suffered seven successive Six Nations home reversals, two on the bounce to Italy and won just one game from 10 starts in the tournament since Gatland returned for a second stint as head coach.

Italy had propped up the table for eight campaigns in a row, but they avoided that fate this time around, and the Cardiff mood was in stark contrast to five years ago when Wales stormed to the Six Nations title and a Grand Slam by crushing Ireland.

Continued pressure

The Azzurri, though, could reflect on a memorable campaign that also saw them defeat Scotland and draw with France in Lille.

And life is not about to get any easier for Gatland or his players. Their next game is against world champions South Africa in June, followed by a two-Test tour of Australia.

Wales monopolised early possession without making any real attacking headway, and Italy went ahead when Garbisi booted a sixth-minute penalty.

Italy comfortably absorbed continued pressure from Wales, before Garbisi doubled their lead through a second penalty after North infringed by not releasing the ball on the floor.

And Wales’ promising start soon unravelled, with North’s midfield partner Nick Tompkins dropping a pass and Italy storming upfield to post an outstanding try.

Garbisi, centre Tommaso Menoncello and lock Federico Ruzza combined superbly, setting up a strong attacking platform before Wales were unlocked defensively when Ioane sprinted through a gap and touched down.

Garbisi missed the conversion, but Italy had an 11-point advantage after 20 minutes, leaving the wooden spoon hovering closer into view for Wales.

Sixes and sevens

The home side were at sixes and sevens, a situation underlined when a defensive mix-up between Sam Costelow and Cameron Winnett saw the ball knocked-on to gift Italy an attacking scrum 20 metres out.

Although the Azzurri could not capitalise, there was continued uncertainty and hesitancy from Wales, and even when they established a threatening position inside Italy’s 22, Tompkins knocked on again.

Wales looked completely fazed by the occasion, in contrast to Italy’s largely calm and assured presence, and an 11-0 interval lead confirmed a sense of control for the visitors.

It had been an opening 40 minutes for Wales as poor as the first half against Scotland in their Six Nations opener, when the Scots built up a 20-point advantage.

Italy struck again just six minutes after the restart, with Ioane heavily involved and Pani producing a blistering finish as he cut back inside Wales wing Rio Dyer. Garbisi’s conversion put them 18 points ahead, with seemingly no way back for Wales.

Gatland began ringing the changes, and a glimmer of hope was provided when Dee crashed over for a try 16 minutes from time that Costelow converted.

But Garbisi snuffed that out when he kicked a 45-metre penalty, and Page-Relo then found the target from even longer range as Wales’ abject Six Nations season reached its sorry conclusion despite late tries from Rowlands and Grady.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.


Support our Nation today

For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
6 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Y Cymro
Y Cymro
25 days ago

They never learn do they. Same ones making the same old mistakes. RIP Welsh rugby. 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 ☠️

Frank
Frank
25 days ago

Why does Wales always wait until the last quarter of a game to start playing serious rugby?

David
David
25 days ago

Wales would be better off to not go to South Africa and Australia. They should instead do a tour of Europe playing teams in the Championship (Georgia, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Netherlands, Germany, Belgium and Poland) then they could gain confidence in winning.

Rob
Rob
25 days ago
Reply to  David

I agree. We need to give lower tier nations more exposure against top tier teams, and rugby needs to stop acting like a closed shop.

The Six Nations need promotion and relegation to give the chance for Romania, Georgia or Portugal the opportunity to take part. I know this is very counter intuitive from a Welsh perspective but it would also force the WRU to put its house in order.

Last edited 25 days ago by Rob
Mark
Mark
25 days ago

It’s not how you get knocked down It’s how you get back up . I’ve no doubt Warren Gatland is the best person to get the best out of the players available to him . He’s inherited a lack of investment and common sense planning in Welsh rugby in general, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sows ear . But I also believe and have faith in the spirit and commitment our young players have shown us. It’s a matter of time and patience and most importantly of all the wru giving the regions , the clubs… Read more »

Rob
Rob
25 days ago

Good thing the world cup draw isn’t happening this year.

Our Supporters

All information provided to Nation.Cymru will be handled sensitively and within the boundaries of the Data Protection Act 2018.