High drama as last-minute try gives Italy first Six Nations win in 36 attempts

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A DRAMATIC last minute try from winger Edoardo Padovani gave Italy a shock victory in Cardiff, their first Six Nations success in 36 attempts – and their first point in the championship for four years.

A moment of dancing brilliance from Ange Capuozzo set up Padovani to score – and Paolo Garbisi converted from in front of the posts to stun the Millennium Stadium crowd and spark tears of joy from the ecstatic Azzurri as they collapsed into a collective heap.

This is only their 13th victory in the Six Nations and a third against Wales. Only against Scotland (7) have they won more.

Said coach Kieran Crowley on the BBC: “I’m just really proud. They were out on their feet the last 30 minutes but they kept playing, kept believing. There was a tear in my eye in the stands … you’d think we had won the World Cup but this is so important, they’re a young group and they need moments like this. One game doesn’t make a team, we’ve got to build on this when we meet up the summer and build up to November.”

The result will trigger pressure on Welsh boss Wayne Pivac, whose side struggled to find any early fluency as Italy struck first with a 13th-minute penalty from Paolo Garbisi.

He said: “Discipline wasn’t great in the first half, we conceded 12 points from ill-discipline … and then to get back in the game, and throw it away at the end, it’s hugely frustrating. The Italians came here with more enthusiasm than us, which is hard to understand. We’re very disappointed. We had improved throughout the competition and today we’ve let ourselves down.”

Italy’s Juan Ignacio Brex celebrates with Toa Halafihi after the game 
Italy’s Juan Ignacio Brex celebrates with Toa Halafihi after the game 

Last season’s champions had hoped to give milestone men Dan Biggar and Alun Wyn Jones a day to remember.

Skipper Biggar became the seventh Welshman to collect 100 caps, while Jones clocked up 150 Wales appearances, making him the first player in international rugby union history to reach that figure.

But the script was torn up by an Italian side that claimed a first Six Nations victory for seven years that ended a run of 36 successive losses in the competition.

The home fans had nothing to cheer until Wales won a series of penalties in the Italy 22. Wales finally found space to release Rees-Zammit out wide, but the flying wing was unable to collect McNicholl’s pass and the chance was lost.

Italy’s defence was breached after 28 minutes when Wales built momentum from winning quick ball.

Rees-Zammit made good ground down the right flank and possession was recycled smoothly for Owen Watkin to break clear for his second Test try.

Biggar converted but Italy quickly replied through Garbisi’s second penalty and the visitors led 9-7.

Wales’ indiscipline was hurting them and Padovani landed another long-range kick to extend Italy’s lead to five points after 34 minutes.

NEARLY; Italy's Monty Ioane is tackled into touch in the second half by Wales' Josh Adams at the Principality Stadium
NEARLY; Italy’s Monty Ioane is tackled into touch in the second half by Wales’ Josh Adams at the Principality Stadium

Italy finished the first period on top and their growing optimism led them to kick to touch and opt for a forward drive to the line rather than take another three points.

But Wales held firm and went to the break 12-7 in arrears, knowing they need a vast improvement in the second half to avoid a first-ever home defeat to Italy.

Italy’s half-time lead was only their second in 11 years in the Six Nations and they almost extended it five minutes after the restart.

Monty Ioane seemed certain to make the corner after gathering his own kick, but the winger was denied by an outstanding cover tackle from Josh Adams. Wales capitalised on that try-saving tackle to hit the front after 51 minutes through Lake’s first Test score.

The Ospreys hooker powered over as Wales’ driving maul pinned Italy back and Biggar successfully converted off a post for a 14-12 lead.

Italy reclaimed the lead after Ioane launched a stunning counter-attack from behind his own line.

Wales were forced to defend deep in their own 22, and another home infringement saw Garbisi slotted a simple penalty to give Italy a one-point advantage at 15-14.

Wales were throwing caution to the wind and there were signs that Italy were tiring.

Adams sensed the opportunity when accepting Ross Moriarty’s long pass, cutting back from the touchline and inside two Azzurri forwards to sprint clear for his 19th Test try. Biggar converted for a 21-15 Wales lead, but there was a dramatic sting in the tail to come.

WALES: J McNicholl (C Sheedy 60); L Rees-Zammit, O Watkin, U Halaholo (N Tompkins 45); J Adams; D Biggar (capt), G Davies (K Hardy 66); G Thomas (W Jones 60) , D Lake (B Roberts 75), D Lewis (L Brown 40), A Beard, A W Jones (W Rowlands 60), S Davies (R Moriarty 49), J Navidi, T Faletau.

ITALY: A Capuozzo; E Padovani, J Ignacio Brex, L Marin (M Zanon 52), M Ioane; P Garbisi, C Braley; D Fischetti, (C Traore 70) G Nicotera (L Bigi 52), P Ceccarelli (F alongi 52), M Fuser (N Cannone 47), F Ruzza, G Pettinelli (D Sisi 75), M Lamaro (capt), T Halafihi (B Steyn 63).

Referee: A Brace (Ireland).

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