Michele Lamaro Italy

ROME, ITALY - MARCH 09: Michele Lamaro of Italy celebrates the victory at the end of the Guinness Six Nations 2024 match between Italy and Scotland at Stadio Olimpico on March 09, 2024 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images)

Italy Reckon They Weren’t Great Last Time They Were In Cardiff . . . When They Won

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By Gareth James

Italy captain Michele Lamaro has insisted his team did not play that well when they beat Wales two years ago – and vowed they will be better this weekend.

The Italians take on Wales in confident mood after their stunning victory over Scotland at the weekend.

Their 31-29 triumph means they have a healthy four-point gap between themselves and Wales who are bottom of the table after four successive defeats.

Even a first victory for Warren Gatland’s team may not be enough to prevent Wales from finishing with the wooden spoon, if Italy pick up a bonus point.

“We still have to improve a lot, but to bring back a win in Rome is unbelievable,” said skipper Lamaro.

“The stadium was full and that was one of our objectives in the past few months.

“It means a lot as it is a win that come from one game that we played well.

“It has been two to three years working so hard, I think this is the most important thing.

“The last game we won against Wales in Cardiff we were underdogs and we didn’t play that well but now we have improved from the first game till now.

“We are hungry, we want to bring this team to the next level – we fully believe in what we do.”

At the top of the table, Andy Farrell dismissed suggestions retaining the Six Nations title could now feel like an anti-climax after Ireland’s hyped quest for back-to-back Grand Slams was crushed.

The reigning champions looked well placed to make history by delivering consecutive tournament clean sweeps before suffering Saturday’s last-gasp loss to title rivals England at Twickenham.

Avoiding defeat to Scotland in the final round will almost certainly ensure Ireland keep hold of their crown, while even a loss would still leave Steve Borthwick’s side requiring a bonus-point win in France to snatch glory.

Head coach Farrell, who feels it would be “unjust” for his team to still be in Grand Slam contention following England’s best display under Borthwick, is keen to put things in perspective moving towards what should be another memorable St Patrick’s weekend in Dublin.

He said: “Anti-climax? How many times have we won the Six Nations?

“Everyone would love to be in our position. We’ve got to make sure we’re loving that challenge as well.

“I’ve absolutely no doubt that they (Ireland supporters) 100 per cent will be on song. Paddy’s weekend again, with the chance of winning a Six Nations.

“It could have been a little bit better but Grand Slams are unbelievably hard to come by. Six Nations are hard enough, as everyone would vouch for.”

No team has won successive Grand Slams in the Six Nations era, with France the last side to achieve the feat in the 1998 Five Nations.
Ireland were seconds away from remaining on course to snap that statistic thanks to two James Lowe tries and four Jack Crowley penalties.

But Marcus Smith’s dramatic added-time drop goal earned England a deserved 23-22 victory to keep alive the title race, raising question marks over Ireland’s game management in the final minutes.

“I thought we could have kicked longer and out,” said Farrell.

“There’s one we kicked long and not out; the other one was out and a little bit short. But those are small bits that matter in the end.

“At the end of the day, I might sound stupid saying this but I thought it would have been unjust for England not to win the game. I thought they played really well.”

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