First Six Nations title for Wales U20s
Wales Under 20 made history as they delivered a first junior Six Nations Grand Slam since 2005 as they overcame a nervous first-half to finally put Italy to the sword at Parc Eirias and emerge with a 35-6 victory.
Tom Phillips' side were all fingers and thumbs for the first 40 minutes as they let the sense of occasion get to them. They dropped the ball, conceded territory and were very much the second best side for long periods as the rugged Italians turned on the power.
But three second half tries turned the game on its head after the sides changed ends with the scoreboard level at 6-6. It meant Wales added the Under 20 Grand Slam to the Triple Crown they won against England last weekend - their first triumph at Under 20 level in the nine seasons games have been played at the age group.
Phillips now joins Stephen Jones (U21 - 1999), Paul James (U21 - 2003) and James Merriman (U21 - 2005) as a Grand Slam skipper and it was the Scarlets' back row man's charge down from a defensive kick out of the Italian 22 from the second half kick-off that settled the nerves and sparked a major second half revival.
There were two penalties a piece from the respective outside halves in the opening half and Italy briefly led 6-3 when Matteo Minozzi kicked his second goal. But Dan Jones levelled the scores with the final kick of the first-half and whatever was said in the dressing room at half-time certainly did the trick.
The forwards took charge, the Welsh scrum destroyed the Italian set-piece and off the back of their work the outstanding Harrison Keddie picked up two tries as Italy were swept aside on a wave of pride, passion and Welsh panache.
Wales had failed to put together any of the phase play that had enabled them to trounce England a week earlier in the first-half, but with some strong words from the coaching team of Jason Strange, Geraint Lewis, Chris Horsman and Richard Hodges no doubt ringing in their ears they were a transformed side after the break.
Jones kicked a penalty to edge his side in front after 46 minutes and then the direct approach from the home pack paved the way for Keddie's first try from close range. Jones added he conversion and then improved a driving line-out try from Scarlets' openside Sean Evans.
That try came seconds after Italian prop Daniele Rimpelli was sent to the sin-bin for a senseless off the ball dump tackle on Harri Millard. There was a third home before Rimpelli returned, this time from right wing Joe Thomas.
Another Jones conversion extended the lead to 24 points before that man Keddie added the final seal of approval to an outstanding season for the Welsh youngsters with a second close-range, power try that came with the final move of the game.
Wales will now move on to the Junior World Championships in Manchester this summer as one of the form teams - and one of the teams to beat.
Wales: Tries: H Keddie 2, S Evans, J Thomas; Cons: D Jones 3; Pens: D Jones 3.
Italy: Pens: M Minozzi 2.
Wales Under 20: Rhun Williams (RGC); Joe Thomas (Ospreys), Harri Millard (Cardiff Blues), Owen Watkin (Ospreys), Keelan Giles (Ospreys); Daniel Jones (Scarlets), Reuben Morgan-Williams (Ospreys); Corey Domachowski (Cardiff Blues), Dafydd Hughes (Scarlets), Dillon Lewis (Cardiff Blues), Shane Lewis-Hughes (Cardiff Blues), Adam Beard (Ospreys), Tom Phillips (Scarlets, captain), Shaun Evans (Scarlets), Harrison Keddie (Dragons)
Replacements: Ifan Phillips (Scarlets) for Hughes or 73; Rhys Fawcett (Scarlets) for Domachowski 65; Leon Brown (Dragons) for Lewis 72; Bryce Morgan (Dragons) for Lewis-Hughes 73; Morgan Sieniawski (Cardiff Blues) for Evans 65; Declan Smith (Scarlets) for Morgan-Williams 65; Billy McBryde (Scarlets) for Watkin 72; Joe Gage (Ospreys) for Williams 73.
Italy Under 20: Luca Sperandio (Mogliano); Pierre Bruno (Mogliano), Roberto Dal Zilio (Paese), Marco Zanon (Mogliano), Lorenzo Masato (Mogliano); Matteo Minozzi (Calvisano), Vincenzo Trussardi (Clermont); Daniele Rimpelli (Rugby Reggio), Marco Manfredi (San Donà), Marco Riccioni (Calvisano, captain), Leonard Krumov (Viadana), Samuele Ortis (Lyons), Lorenzo Robin Masselli (National Academy), Davide Ciotoli (L'Aquila), Giovanni Pettinelli (National Academy)
Replacements: Nicolò Broglia (Firenze), Damiano Borean (San Donà) for Sperandio 62-72, for Rimpelli 72; Giosuè Zilocchi (Elephant Rugby), Vittorio Alberto Mantegazza (Capitolina) for Krumov 55; Michael de Marco (National Academy), Giovanni Lucchin(Rovigo), Marcello Angelini (L'Aquila) for Dal Zilio 72; Leonardo Mantelli (Rovigo) for Masato 47
YC: D Rimpelli 58