WALES suffered their seventh successive home defeat in the Guinness Six Nations as they ended their 2024 campaign with the Wooden Spoon – their first whitewash in 21 years.

Italy were seeking their best finish after drawing with France and beating Scotland, and got off to a flying start when Tomas Williams was trapped on the floor after gathering a kick, and Paolo Garbisi slotted the penalty.

Nick Tomkins is stopped in his tracks
Nick Tomkins is stopped in his tracks. Pic WRU (WRU)

Eight minutes later the Italian fly-half doubled the lead from 35m. And when wing Monty Ioane broke through to score midway through the half after some neat back line play it was 11-0.

That was the score at the break, but straight after the restart another backline move saw 21-year-old full back Lorenzo Mani weave over, converted by Garbisi for 18-0.

With a mountain to climb, Warren Gatland sent on Will Rowlands to add power up front and Mason Grady to provide pace in the back line.

And in the 64th minute Elliot Dee finally squeezed over after a close-range line-out, Sam Costelow converting.

Tomos Williams
Tomos Williams. Pic WRU (WRU)

But Garbisi then landed a monster penalty before his replacement half-back, Martin Page-Relo, added a bigger one two minutes later to make it 24-7.

Wales were down but not quite out, Rowlands powering over from close range with three minutes left.

Another Wales attack hits a blue wall
Another Wales attack hits a blue wall. Photo: WRU (WRU)

Mason Grady then scored in the last move, gathering a Keiran Hardy chip over the top and racing in.

But although Ioan Lloyd converted both, it was still too little, too late.

Gatland offered his resignation afterwards, which was turned down by WRU chief executive Abi Tierney.

Asked if he can turn things round, he said: “Absolutely. I've never shied away from that. 

"We've had glimpses where we've been really good... We need to do that for longer periods.

"We're hurting... but I can see light at the end of the tunnel because we've got a fantastic group of guys who I know have worked hard. 

"There is a huge amount of inexperience, some haven't played a lot of regional rugby and we're exposing them at Test level.

"It's a real challenge... We knew the inexperience we had and the players we asked to step up to leadership roles. 

"It's about taking the good out of the games and showing what we need to do.

“We're probably a little bit at rock bottom, but I honestly see some light at the end of the tunnel. 

"Some exciting players who with some time are going to be excellent internationals."