Italy end seven-year wait for Six Nations win with last-gasp victory over Wales
Italy finally ended their despairing wait for a Six Nations win by dramatically beating Wales 22-21 in Cardiff.
The Azzuri kicked off at the Principality Stadium having lost their last 36 games in the Championship, but trailing 21-15 in the final minute, Edoardo Padovani touched down under the posts before Paolo Garbisi added the conversion with the last act of the match. The score was set up by a scintillating counter attack from full-back Ange Capuozzo, who broke from deep before slipping the inside pass to his teammate.
The jubilant scenes afterwards signified a team who haven't tasted a win in the tournament since beating Scotland in 2015, and compounded a fall from grace for their hosts having been crowned champions in 2021. But in truth, the result was no less than the visitors deserved.
Wales were wasteful in the opening quarter, squandering a series of attacking plays as captain Dan Biggar turned down several chances to take three points from penalties. To the contrary, Italy landed four of their own as No 10 Garbisi and win Padovani landed two each.
Wayne Pivac's side did cross when centre Owen Watkin eventually made pressure pay by cutting through to score, with Biggar, on the day of his 100th cap, converting. But leading 12-7 in the final moments in the half, it was Italy who wasted a golden opportunity as winger Monty Ioane cut through, only to be hauled down short of the line.
A penalty soon followed, but Italy captain Michele Lamaro this time opted for the corner and Wales held out. And then early in the second period, it appeared the tide had turned.
More set-piece pressure from the hosts resulted in hooker Dewi Lake touching down, with Biggar converting. But again Italy responded in style, with the adventurous Capuozzo breaking from behind his own line and linking with Ioane, whose kick ahead eventually yielded a penalty.
Garbisi did the honours but then Welsh winger Josh Adams seemingly spoiled the party. Adams, who earlier in the half had denied the outstanding Ioane with a super cover tackle, capitalised from Josh Navidi's turnover to cut inside a scrambling defence and score.
Biggar's conversion meant Italy needed nothing less than a converted try as the clock ticked towards red. And they duly got it when Capuozzo fielded a kick inside his own half, then beat both Adams and replacement Callum Sheedy has he seared down the right for supplying Padovani with the golden pass.
The result ruined a landmark day for home second row Alun Wyn-Jones, who reached 150 international caps, but Italy coach Kieran Crowley had few concerns over that notion as he addressed reporters afterwards. "They dug in and kept playing, believing, defence was outstanding and they stuck at it," he told the BBC.
"People can't say we've lost 36 in a row. There was a lot of emotion, Marius Goosen our defence coach has been there six years and won his first Six Nations game, you'd think we'd won the World Cup."
And in nice touch afterwards, Adams, who had been awarded man of the match prior to the late drama – sought out at Capuozzo and handed his medal to the 22-year-old.
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