Following a 26-15 win for Wales over Italy in their Six Nations encounter, here’s our five takeaways from the Rome clash on Saturday.
Wales too conservative in first 40: It felt overly cautious at the time and proved costly for Wales in terms of only coming away from Rome with four points. In truth it should have been five but for some odd decisions in the first-half. On four occasions the Welsh opted to take shots at goal which made it 12-0 and ultimately 12-7 at the break, leaving them needing four tries for a maximum in the second period. That proved too much of a mountain to climb as they finished with two on the board, coming close to a third late on.
Solid report card for Owen Watkin: In for Hadleigh Parkes this weekend, Watkin certainly took his chance well and picked up a deserved try for his efforts. The inside centre ran intelligent lines all day and showed that he belongs at this level, forming a good combination with the experienced Jonathan Davies in midfield. In a game that hardly set the world alight, he can be happy with his performance on Saturday.
A record is a record for Wales: It wasn’t pretty but the ‘W’ is in the record books, which equals Wales’ best ever feat of 11 games won in a row. The victories on this streak came against Italy, France, South Africa, Argentina, Argentina, Scotland, Australia, Tonga, South Africa, France and Italy, as they now put their feet up for a weekend before looking to make it 12 for the first time, against England in Cardiff.
Where has Italy’s pack gone? One thing you could always rely on when it came to the Azzurri was a solid, sometimes dominant, front five, but they are constantly getting bested in the set-piece nowadays. Martin Castrogiovanni, Salvatore Perugini and Andrea Lo Cicero were all top players but they now retired and the Italians have failed to replace them. And with Leonardo Ghiraldini simply not at the level he once was because of his age, it is an indictment on their system that they are struggling in that department. There are signs that their youth development is improving but those players can’t come through quick enough.
Wales’ weakened team could cost them: This victory does show that the Welsh do have some decent depth, something which wasn’t the case a few years ago but, from a competition perspective, it may cause them issues later on. For all title contenders, a try bonus-point has been a given against Italy over recent years but Warren Gatland’s men could only touch down twice in Rome. To an extent, they have a favourable draw, with them facing rivals England and Ireland at home, but it will be a big ask to win both those games, while their encounter in Scotland will not be easy either. Bonus-points could therefore be crucial in deciding the championship and they have missed out on one here.
by Adam Kyriacou and Colin Newboult
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