HANNAH Jones’ Welsh side hit their target of winning three TikTok Six Nations matches in one campaign as they notched five tries in Italy in one of the best-ever away performances in the Championship.
It was a third bonus-point win of the season and meant Wales secured third place behind Grand Slam England and France for the second year in a row.
It was also the first time in 14 years they had won three games in the tournament.
The victory also guarantees them a ticket into the top tier of the new World XV tournament in the autumn, when the best three teams in the northern hemisphere will do battle with the best three in the southern tournament.
That means rubbing shoulders with England and reigning world champions New Zealand.
Having beaten both Ireland and Scotland with a bonus-point, that elusive third win came with another as Jones’ team ended Italy’s six-match domination in the fixture.
Keira Bevan gave Wales the lead with a penalty six minutes in, and the scrum-half’s quick thinking paved the way for the first try in the 24th minute when she took a tap penalty five metres out and fed back row colleague Bethan Lewis for the try.
Bevan’s conversion made it 10-0, but there was no chance to sit back and ponder. From the kick-off the Italians showed what they could conjure up via their back line as outside half Veronica Madia got over in the left corner.
Full back Michaela Sillari added a touchline conversion and then kicked a penalty to level things up.
Wales went back to basics and there was no stopping Sisilia Tuipulotu as she powered over from the final wave of devastating pick and go drives from the Welsh pack to cross at the posts.
Another conversion from Bevan made it 17-10 to the visitors at the break, yet it was still anyone’s game.
And it took a turn-over from Bethan Lewis to take the wind out of the sails of the Italians at the start of the second half.
Then Lleucu George kicked a penalty into the red zone in the home 22 to create the position from which an unstoppable line-out drive propelled Sioned Harries over for the third try.
Bevan once again converted.
On the hour-mark Callender appeared on the inside of outside half Elnor Snowsill to take a pass that broke the home defensive line.
She ran up to the 22 before sending the ball out wide to left wing Carys Williams-Morris and stayed in support to take a return pass to score the try of the game.
Finally, replacement scrum half Ffion Lewis put in a superb kick into no-man’s land in front of the Italian posts that bounced perfectly for Kerin Lake to score at the posts and Snowsill to convert.
Callender was named as Player of the Match. It also proved a winning farewell for 37-year-old loosehead prop Caryl Thomas, who came off the bench for her 65th cap and later announced her retirement from international rugby.