Match Report

Italy Women finish strongly to claim victory at Principality Stadium

Italy Women overcame a Welsh fightback to claim a 22-15 win at Principality Stadium in a thrilling encounter.

Italy Women overcame a Welsh fightback to claim a 22-15 win at Principality Stadium in a thrilling encounter.

Michela Sillari’s try at the death sealed victory for the Italians, their first of this year’s Women’s Six Nations in the first game of the double header in Cardiff.

It was a fine performance from the Azzurre, who scored four tries in total to earn the bonus point, with Wales paying for their indiscipline and three yellow cards in the second half.

Wales threatened first when they got Jess Kavanagh-Williams into space on the left but she was called back for a foot in touch.

Instead it was Italy who took the lead, attacking left and then right before Isabella Locatelli cut inside and through for the first try. Michela Sillari’s conversion made it 7-0 to the visitors.

They almost had another when Maria Magatti broke down the right and grubbered through. Sara Barattin nudged it on but Hannah Jones did well to get back and dot it down and deny the Azzurre.

Wales responded, and got on the board with a penalty from Robyn Wilkins and that was quickly followed by a first try for the Welsh.

It came after a surging break from Sioned Harries off the back of a scrum. She found Kerin Lake and when the ball was recycled and spread back the other way, Alisha Butchers was able to force her way over.

The momentum was clearly with the home side, and they were almost in again when Jasmine Joyce got away down the right but she could not quite round the final defender and Italy survived.

And it was the Italians who went in ahead at the break when Maria Magatti finished off a great score from first-phase ball. Off the back of a scrum the Italians put the ball through the hands and Manuela Furlan then burst through a gap. When she was scragged by the covering defence, she found Magatti inside her for the simple finish to put Italy 12-8 up at the break.

The Italians were growing in confidence and they grabbed a third try ten minutes into the second half, cutting through the Welsh defence once more. Veronica Madia made the initial break off the back of a lineout and found Locatelli on her shoulder. When Locatelli was tackled, Italy got quick ball and quickly fed it wide to Beatrice Rigoni for the try.

Wales were really under pressure, and almost conceded the bonus-point score when Italy broke through again. A succession of penalties led to the sin-binning of Melissa Clay, but Wales held out when Italy looked set to go in again.

While the Welsh held out during Clay’s absence, just as she was about to return, Butchers was also sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Furlan.

However, despite being a player down, it was Wales who scored next, Harries powering over after a rolling maul had driven Italy back onto their own line. Wilkinson converted from out wide to cut the deficit to two points with ten minutes remaining.

Italy were under pressure but responded and almost got in when Rigoni’s chip over the top found space but the ball bounced cruelly away from Locatelli when she was in the clear.

The visitors had composed themselves though, and when Magatti chipped through, Harries was isolated on her line and sin-binned when she failed to release.

Finally Italy took advantage of the extra player, putting Sillari over after the forwards had battered away at the line, clinching a first Azzurre win of the campaign.