Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Wales set up Grand Slam clash

Tries from Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert helped Wales set up an RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam clash with France next weekend as they eased past Italy 24-3 at the Millennium Stadium.

While Wales were not at their best in attack, their sheer weight of possession and territory told after the break as Roberts and Cuthbert both raced in from distance as the Azzurri tired.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked three first-half penalties and converted Roberts' score, with fly-half Rhys Priestland also adding a penalty of his own. Italy's only points came courtesy of a Mirco Bergamasco penalty early in the first half.

After missing a number of early tackles, Italy showed signs of settling under Sergio Parisse's assured leadership, and Wales were restricted to a long-range Halfpenny penalty that Bergamasco cancelled out just two minutes later.

The visitors, though, found themselves living off scraps of possession, and what meaningful ball they did secure was immediately kicked back to Wales by fly-half Kristopher Burton.

A second Halfpenny penalty - he reached 50 points in the tournament as a result - edged Wales back in front, and they continued their siege of Italy's 22 but a combination of superb Italian defence and occasional over-eagerness by Welsh attackers meant the Azzurri restricted their opponents to one more Halfpenny penalty as a tryless opening period ended 9-3 in Wales' favour.

Wales huffed and puffed for 10 minutes after the break, yet they finally breached Italy's defence when Rhys Priestland found Roberts, whose angled 40-metre run took him clear and over for a try that Halfpenny converted.

Halfpenny then spent 10 minutes off the field, sin-binned by referee George Clancy for an aerial challenge on Parisse when he had clearly gone for the ball and not the opposition player.

Priestland slotted a 70th-minute penalty that left the Italians 16 points adrift, and then strong-running Cuthbert added a second try two minutes from time


From Belfast Telegraph