Replacement scrum-half Stephen Varney bagged a brace as Italy finished the U18 Six Nations Festival on a high with a 34-13 victory against Wales at Kingsholm Stadium.
Wales came into the final game of the U18 Six Nations Festival on the back of victory against Scotland after Chris Horsman’s side lost their opening game against England.
Horsman made just two changes to the starting XV that beat the Scots, with Scarlets loosehead prop Sam O’Connor coming in to the front row with Ospreys hooker Oliver Burrows.
But Italy had already proven themselves formidable opponents at this level, having downed England last year and beaten Scotland this year before giving France a scare last time out.
Ioan Evans scored the opening try for Wales to give them the early lead, capitalising on Louis Rees-Zammit’s kick forward, but the Azzurri then began to take control.
Full-back Leonardo Marin cut through the Welsh defence to send Riccardo Favretto free only for heroic last-ditch defending from Dan Jones and Evans to deny the lock.
Wales had no answer for Italy next attack, though, with their forwards hammering away at the tryline before Manfredi Albanese sniped over the whitewash from close range.
Marin, who was a constant menace to the Welsh defence all afternoon, converted the extras before putting his side in front for the first time with a penalty on 33 minutes.
Ioan Lloyd replied with a penalty of his own to level the scores at the break, while he added another after the restart to put Wales back in front as the game ebbed and flowed.
But once Italy took the lead again through No.8 Lorenzo Cannone, who burst through the Welsh backline to score next to the posts, they never looked back.
Varney scored from close range for Italy’s third try to extend their lead, before Benetton’s Tommaso Menoncello came off the bench to score a stunning solo try.
A second try from Varney after Marin danced his way through the Welsh defence once again then capped off an impressive display from the Italians.
The celebrations at the final whistle showed what it meant to the Italian players, who avenged their defeat to Wales in last year’s competition in style.