Byrne feeling bubbly

Lee Byrne laid claim to a second bottle of Shaun Edwards' champagne with a starring role in Wales' 47-8 victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium. [more]

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Lee Byrne laid claim to a second bottle of Shaun Edwards’ champagne with a starring role in Wales’ 47-8 victory over Italy at the Millennium Stadium.

The Ospreys full-back scored two of Wales’ five tries and was a rock in defence as Wales moved clear at the top of the RBS 6 Nations table with their third straight victory.

Byrne, arguably the most improved player under Warren Gatland’s new regime, was named the official man of the match but the most important verdict will come on Tuesday when the squad sit down to analyse their full performance.

Even in victory the video rarely makes for comfortable watching – Gatland’s coaching staff do not pull any punches – but it always helps to have caught Edwards’ eye.

"We all dread going into the video analysis room on a Monday because we know we will not get any pats on the back, especially from Shaun," said Byrne.

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"He comes in with two bottles of champagne and gives them to the player he thought had the outstanding game and that is the only smile you get out of him and from there it is head down.

"I took the bottles after the Scotland game. Mike Phillips got them after the England game for his charge down and try in the corner.

"As a team we are starting to put a few things together and that is more important than my own personal performance.

"It is about moving on as a team and so the coaches then start looking at all the bad points."

There were a few of those against Italy, most notably the lineout where they lost four throws and gifted Martin Castrogiovanni the opening try.

The accuracy Gatland had complained about after the Scotland game was also missing in the first half they but they bossed the possession stats to wear Italy down.

And once Tom Shanklin had snatched an interception try within two minutes of the restart, Italy crumbled and Wales sped through the gears.

Shane Williams also scored twice to move within one try of Gareth Thomas’ Welsh record of 40, the second of which was a blistering solo effort past four Italian defenders.

There were significant contributions also from Stephen Jones, who kicked 18 points, and captain Ryan Jones but Byrne’s performance once again caught the eye.

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