Wales head coach Warren Gatland was planning a low-key week for his players as they aim to match the superstars of the 1970s by making it three Grand Slams in eight seasons against France next weekend.
Second-half tries from Jamie Roberts and Alex Cuthbert allowed Wales to extend their 9-3 halftime lead over the Italians to a final, unspectacular scoreline of 24-3 on Saturday.
However, that was good enough to maintain their unbeaten record and give them a chance of doing something special at the Millennium Stadium.
“I don’t think it will be difficult for us to keep a lid on things next week. We have planned next week so that we aren’t out too much,” Gatland said.
Italy were forced to make almost twice as many tackles as Wales in the game (121-62) and were swamped on the territory and possession statistics. However, they were still in the hunt at halftime — three Leigh Halfpenny penalties to one from Mirco Bergamasco — and it wasn’t until the 50th minute that Wales found their way to the try line.
Roberts carved his way through and raced 40m to the posts for a try that Halfpenny improved, but not even that could open the floodgates.
Cuthbert added a second three minutes from time after Rhys Priestland had added a penalty.
Italy, who have now lost four games in a row, will end their championship against Scotland in Rome this weekend, but will have to do so without Tobias Botes, who dislocated his shoulder late on in the game.
IRELAND 32, SCOTLAND 14
Scotland coach Andy Robinson told his side they’d have to do a “lot of work” if they wanted to beat fellow strugglers Italy and avoid the Six Nations wooden spoon after a damaging 32-14 defeat by Ireland.
The Lansdowne Road loss was Scotland’s sixth in a row and meant they’d won just two of their 14 Six Nations matches under Robinson.
However, it was the manner of this defeat, Scotland’s heaviest of this Six Nations — they lost by 14 points to Grand Slam-chasing Wales in Cardiff — that threatened to be particularly dispiriting for a youthful side.
All season Robinson has lauded Scotland’s commitment and ambition, both of which were evident in a narrow 23-17 defeat by World Cup finalists France at Murrayfield last time out.
However, the former England flanker and coach made no attempt to sugar the pill of a comprehensive defeat by an Ireland side missing the key injured trio of Brian O’Driscoll, Paul O’Connell and Sean O’Brien, as well as scrumhalf Conor Murray.
Scotland were still in the match at 22-14 behind at halftime, but failed to score any points at all after the interval.
Even Scotland’s expected superiority in the lineout failed to materialize on Saturday, with Ireland lock Donnacha Ryan, only playing because of O’Connell’s injury, controlling that aspect on his way to the man-of-the-match award.