One of the highlights of 2022, for Italy fans at least, was seeing the Azzurri end a seven-year wait for a Guinness Six Nations win as Paolo Garbisi kicked a last-gasp match-winning conversion.
That dramatic 22-21 victory in Cardiff was the latest instalment in a series of cracking contests between Italy and Wales, and it continues this Saturday with both sides seeking their first win of this year’s Championship.
Here we take a look back at five of the most unforgettable encounters between Italy and Wales, although hopefully, the list will be out of date come Sunday morning.
2000 – Wales 47-16 Italy
We start at the beginning when Wales welcomed Italy to their first away trip in Rugby’s Greatest Championship with a record-breaking win.
At the time it was Wales’ biggest victory over Italy on home soil, and Neil Jenkins also wrote his name into the history books with a 27-point haul taking his world record to 966.
But there was a battle for the headlines, as Scott Quinnell relentlessly ate up metres and a baby-faced Shane Williams crossed on his first international start.
It is also easy to forget that Graham Henry’s Wales were on a three-match losing streak, and had not scored a try for three hours and 25 minutes.
The 2000 Championship was not a classic as far as Wales were concerned, but this match alone had a towering heap of significance to a team in transition.
2006 – Wales 18-18 Italy
It took six years for the Six Nations newcomers to register their first point away from home, but both sides had chances to take two in a tight second half.
Everything was going to plan for the hosts when Mark Jones and Stephen Jones helped Wales to a 15-3 lead.
But Ezio Galon and Pablo Canavosio hit back for Pierre Berbizier’s men and by the interval, the scoreline was poised at 15-15.
What followed was a fascinating tactical battle with both Ramiro Pez and Cristian Stoica missing the chance to edge the Azzurri further ahead after Pez’s successful penalty.
Stephen Jones levelled with a penalty of his own on 58 minutes, and Italy held on to come away from Cardiff with a famous point.
2007 – Italy 23-20 Wales
The match between Italy and Wales in 2007 was an historic encounter.
It marked the first time Italy recorded two wins in a Six Nations and inspired them to their joint-highest finish ever in Rugby’s Greatest Championship. c
It was also only their second-ever win against Wales.
Shane Williams’ try gave the visitors the lead before Kaine Robertson’s score and two Ramiro Pez penalties put Italy 13-7 up at half-time.
Matthew Rees’ try and two James Hook penalties early in the second half put Wales seven points ahead but Pez cut the deficit to four points with a penalty.
Mauro Bergamasco then scored a stunning 77th-minute try to snatch victory for the Azzurri.
2015 – Italy 20-61 Wales
Wales put in one of their greatest ever Six Nations second-half performances, as Warren Gatland’s side turned a one-point half-time lead into a 41-point winning margin.
George North raced in for a hat-trick, while Jamie Roberts, Liam Williams, Scott Williams, Rhys Webb and Sam Warburton also crossed the whitewash and fly-half Dan Biggar contributed 15 points with the boot.
Italy were able to get on the scoresheet through wings Giovanbattista Venditti and Leonardo Sarto.
This game was also the first instalment of arguably the greatest-ever Super Saturday. With Wales, Ireland and England all in the mix for the title, Wales‘ bumper victory boosted their points difference and put the pressure on Ireland and England who were in action later that day.
As it turned out, Wales had left themselves too much to do, with Ireland eventually claiming the title, but they gave it a real go.
2022 – Wales 21-22 Italy
Italy’s most recent win against Wales was just one year ago, and it was the spark that started a new era for the Azzurri.
Italy broke their seven-year Guinness Six Nations losing run with a shock late win in Cardiff, Edoardo Padovani scoring the crucial try in the closing stages.
Before the game’s climatic conclusion, Paolo Garbisi and Padovani had shared five penalties, but Wales were ahead thanks to tries from Owen Watkin, Dewi Lake and Josh Adams.
However, Ange Capuozzo’s incredible break set up Padovani’s score, and the rest is history.
Since then, Italy have gone from strength to strength, including a first-ever win over Australia, while Wales are still looking to rebuild, now back under Gatland’s leadership.