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Wales win Six Nations grand slam
Wales defeat France 29-12 to win their second Six Nations grand slam in four years.
Last Modified: 15 Mar 2008 19:09 GMT

Shane Williams became Wales's leading try scorer as his team won the Six Nations grand slam [AFP]

Wales clinched their second Six Nations grand slam in four years by beating France 29-12 at the Millennium Stadium, with winger Shane Williams becoming the new all-time leading Welsh try-sorer in the process.
Earlier, Italy beat Scotland 23-20 with a last minute drop goal by Andrea Marcato at the Stadio Flaminio giving South African coach Nick Mallett his first win with the Azzurri.
 
At Twickenham, England finished their Six Nations campaign with an impressive 33-10 win over Ireland.
In Cardiff, Wales produced a gutsy display of tenacious defence to beat France and take the Six Nations title in style.

The Welsh completed their remarkable transformation from a side which crashed out of last year's World Cup in the group stages to conceding only two tries and finishing unbeaten after five games of European rugby's showcase tournament.

" ...we defended superbly and that's what won us the championship."

Ryan Jones,
Wales captain

Flyhalf James Hook kicked nine points as Wales took a 9-6 halftime lead, with France scrumhalf Jean-Baptiste Elissalde replying with the first two of his three penalties.

Stephen Jones, on later for Hook, kicked 10 points in the second half including the conversion of Williams's try, which broke the record the winger shared with Gareth Thomas.

Dimitri Yachvili kicked a fourth penalty for France and flanker Martyn Williams, persuaded back out of post-World Cup retirement for the tournament, added a late second try for the Welsh.

Ryan Jones, Wales captain, described the result as "something special".
"This is absolutely amazing," the skipper added.

"There were always moments of doubt... but we defended superbly and that's what won us the championship."
 
Italy win, but take the spoon
 

Italy fullback Andrea Marcato, centre, kicks
the winning field goal in Rome [GALLO/GETTY]

In Rome, despite the dramatic end and the wild celebrations that followed the final whistle, Italy still finished the championship with the wooden spoon as they needed to defeat Scotland by at least five points to condemn their rivals to last place.
 
Both sides finished the tournament with one win apiece but Italy will be the more satisfied of the two as they are in the midst of a transitional period with a number of inexperienced players amongst their ranks.

"No, it [the wooden spoon] does not bother me at all," Mallett told a news conference.

"We managed to sneak a win today.

"No, it [the wooden spoon] does not bother me at all."

Nick Mallett,
Italy coach
"This competition is to win and if you don't win it, it is to see how you can improve your rugby. Notwithstanding some disappointments, the team did very well."

Italy opened the scoring with a penalty try, converted by Marcato, only for Scotland to pull level with a try by flanker Allister Hogg midway through the first half with Chris Paterson converting.

Dan Parks, Scotland flyhalf, and Marcato then exchanged penalties before Scottish captain Mike Blair picked up from a ruck to charge over with Paterson's conversion giving the Scots a 17-10 halftime lead.

An interception by Italy captain Sergio Parisse for a try by centre Gonzalo Canale had Italy level again, with Marcato and Paterson putting over another penalty each before coach Mallett celebrated his first win at the death.

It was Italy's fourth triumph over Scotland, after beating them at home in 2000 and 2004 and 37-17 in Edinburgh last season.

Cipriani inspires England

Later, England's new flyhalf Danny Cipriani kicked 18 points to inspire the World Cup finalists to a 33-10 victory over Ireland in their closing Six Nations match.

England scored three tries as they came back from 10 points down to beat Ireland for the first time in five meetings in what was effectively the tournament's third place playoff.

Ireland silenced the Twickenham crowd early on when winger Rob Kearney went over in the corner, with flyhalf Ronan O'Gara converting then adding a penalty for a 10-0 lead after just seven minutes.

However England, inspired by Cipriani's attacking flair in his first start, hit back to lead 13-10 at halftime after a Paul Sackey try and eight points from the flyhalf's boot.

Replacement Mathew Tait scored on the hour while on for Sackey who went off due to the blood rule, with centre Jamie Noon charging over for a third try towards the end.

"I know it was my first start but I've played this game in my head a million times and I was up to four o'clock in the morning thinking about it," Cipriani said of his excellent performance.

"When the forwards play like they did it makes it easy for a number 10."

Source:
Agencies
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