Missed Chances Save Wales from More Rome Ruin; Gatland's Relief as Italy Blow It
Byline: From Gary FitzgeraldsAT THE STADIO FLAMINIO, ROME
WALES escaped further Rome ridicule and despair by the skin of their teeth or, more accurately, the unreliability of Mirco Bergamasco's right boot.
Had the Italians managed to find a more accurate goal-kicker, Warren Gatland's team would have left the Stadio Flaminio reflecting on another major setback in World Cup year.
The hosts were also controversially denied a try by the video referee when Alessandro Zanni seemed to ground the ball when tackled over the Welsh line. This experience, in a venue which has witnessed much Welsh misery in the past, again wavered on the fine line between triumph and disaster.
Jonny Wilkinson or Dan Carter would not have wasted the three easy chances Bergamasco missed to give the defiant Italian steamroller more momentum.
He was eventually replaced by Luciano Orquera, who also missed a decent opportunity to pile some pressure on a Wales side incapable of keeping the ball for long enough to impose themselves in the second half.
Tries from Morgan Stoddart and Sam Warburton were enough to keep the hosts at bay but even fly-half Stephen Jones was forced to admit: 'We were a little lucky. We committed too many mistakes and were illdisciplined.
Another team with a better kicker would have really made us regret what happened out there.
'It wasn't one of our better displays. The first half worked well. We put them on the back foot and played some good attacking rugby. But perhaps we overdid things at times. We probably tried too hard to keep attacks going when things were not in place.
'But Italy are no pushovers. slippery Italy's Gonzalo They don't lie down and die. They have a pack to match most in the world and their backs defend well and can counterattack you. Rome is never an easy place to come to.'
It certainly was not a happy place for Wales in 2003 and 2007 when Italy upset the odds with victory against the same opposition.
Moving James Hook to centre failed to inspire the Welsh attack, although he did send over a crucial second-half drop-goal. Jones will always kick his penalties but there were too many wrong options taken.
Shane Williams was desperate to mark his 34th birthday with a try, but the ball did not bounce his way on a day when touchdowns were surely there for the taking in perfect sunny conditions against an Italian outfit still emotionally and physically drained from their thrashing by England. …