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Sunday 10 December 2017

Byrne makes amends against Azzurri

Lee Byrne has revealed he feared the selection axe for Wales' successful Italian job after his yellow card calamity at Croke Park.

Byrne justified Wales coach Warren Gatland's decision to stick with him by playing a starring role in the second-half demolition of an Italian side that finished as Six Nations wooden spoonists for the eighth time in 11 seasons.

And the Lions full-back admitted he was just relieved to have been involved as Wales powered home 33-10 at the Millennium Stadium.

Just seven days earlier, his yellow card in Dublin saw Ireland score two tries when he was off the pitch, and Wales never recovered in subsiding to an emphatic defeat.

"I owed the coaches, the fans and the players," admitted Byrne. "I let myself down last week, but the coaches stuck by me and I wanted to put in a performance. I thought I did okay, and it was nice to come away smiling.

"There was always a worry -- there are no guarantees with selection. I was worried all week, and I was just fortunate I didn't get dropped.

"I would have had no complaints at all if I had been dropped. It was probably deserved, but fortunately I didn't get dropped and I had another game ahead of me straight away.

"It was good to get that second chance quickly and put things right."

Patient Wales built on fly-half Stephen Jones' four first-half penalties, scoring three tries in 17 minutes either side of the hour mark as centre James Hook claimed a double and wing Shane Williams collected his 51st Test touchdown.

It was a satisfying, rather than spectacular, way to end a tournament that produced two wins, three losses and an over-riding feeling of what might have been for the Welsh.

"We either seem to win a Grand Slam or finish fourth," lamented Byrne. s

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