Hansen's last match before returning home to New Zealand to jointhe All Blacks coaching staff was also statistically his biggest win over amajor nation.
Thomas broke Ieuan Evans' try-scoring record with his 34th try ina match lit up by the skills of man of the match Iestyn Harris who helpedwings Rhys and Shane Williams each score two tries.
The self-effacing Hansen was keen to deflect any praise to histeam. "It's not about one person, it's about the whole and we'vebeen a pretty tight group over the last couple of years," he said.
"They (Italy) are in a similar boat to us. They beat us lastyear and so it was important for us."
Hansen reiterated that he was returning to New Zealand to be withhis teenage daughters after a reign in Wales which has left observersdivided about the health of the team he leaves behind. "It's for family reasons that I'm going home, it's for noother reason and I knew the job I had to do when I came here and I think I've doneit."
Harris paid tribute to the coach. "Steve has done a lot for us over the last couple of yearsand we really wanted to send him off with a good win and we needed it ourselves aswell. But it's nice for us to get a win under his belt in his lastgame."
Wales were led on to the Millennium Stadium turf by GarethLlewellyn who was winning his 87th cap, equalling Neil Jenkins' Wales caps recordand they were soon in front.
Gareth Cooper's winding run earned a Welsh penalty in front of theposts and flyhalf Stephen Jones's kick was good for the game's firstpoints.
Jones put the Welsh 6-0 up five minutes later after good work fromDafydd Jones.
Wales scored the first try of the game when they switchedpossession around before Harris found Shane Williams with a long pass and Williamsignored two teammates but just managed to get the ball down despite theattentions of three Italian players. Jones missed the conversion.
The red shirts were camped virtually permanently on the Italiangoalline and it was inevitable that Wales would score their second try whichcame when Gareth Cooper and Gareth Thomas combined to allow Rhys Williams to goover in the corner, but again Jones spurned the conversion.
Mark Taylor should have notched up Wales' third try but had theball knocked out of his hands by Gonzalo Canale's tackle. Just after the second half began, Italy got on the scoreboard whenRhys Williams was penalised, allowing Roland de Marigny to stroke the ballthrough the posts. De Marigny was wide with another attempt within minutes and Jonesand the Italian kicker exchanged misses.
With half an hour remaining, Thomas broke Ieuan Evans' Welshtry-scoring record with his 34th try and Jones finally made a conversion.
Fresh from his introduction from the bench, Tom Shanklin picked upa pass to sprint over for another try.
Then against the run of play, Andrea Masi crossed for only Italy'ssecond try in this season's RBS Six Nations.
The tries began to tumble in for the Welsh, with Shane Williamscrossing after some impressive backline play and Jones took the extra points. Rhys Williams scored another Welsh try and made it 44-10 afterMichael Owen threw an american football-style pass to stretch a move to the rightwing.
AFP - 2004.