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Sunday, March 11, 2012

Wales still on course for Grand Slam following victory over Italy

Wales are still on track for a Six Nations title following a comfortable 24-3 win over determined Italy at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday. If they beat France next weekend, they will pick up their third Grand Slam in eight years.

It was a slow first half as Italy frustrated the hosts, who went into the break at just six points up at 9-3, following penalties exchanged by Leigh Halfpenny and Mirco Bergamasco.

Two tries followed in the second period, one by Jamie Roberts as he split the defence to run 50 meters untouched, and the other a later effort from winger, and Man of the Match, Alex Cuthbert.

Halfpenny was yellow carded for taking out Sergio Parisse in the air, although it looked as though it may have been a harsh call. Welsh coach Warren Gatland felt that his side didn't get the rub of the green throughout, criticising referee George Clancy's handling of the breakdown.

"I thought there was a lot of intent by us but it was a bit frustrating because the flow of the game was not there. We were not allowed to get quick ball and the breakdown was a bit of a mess. We will take the win but if a team has that much possession and territory and loses the penalty count 13-12 you have got to be frustrated about that.

"We weren’t allowed to get the momentum going. It’s probably just about trying to get the message through to referees, let’s be positive to the team that is trying to play positively and let’s reward them for that. I don’t think everything has to be 100 per cent to the letter of the law because there is so much interpretation.

"That’s why I am personally pretty frustrated because it was difficult for us," Gatland added.

Italy coach Jaques Brunel, who took over from Nick Mallett, was positive despite the loss. He was pleased with his team's defensive effort against a 'very powerful Welsh side'.

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