Wayne Pivac heaped praise on impressive Wales debutant Nick Tompkins and hat-trick hero Josh Adams after a comprehensive five-try win over Italy in Cardiff.
With both Italy and Wales going into the 2020 Guinness Six Nations with new head coaches the new era under Pivac couldn’t have begun more strongly as his side kept the Azzurri scoreless.
Adams had two scintillating tries inside half-an-hour, Dan Biggar one of the best passes the Championship has ever seen, and in the second half the hat-trick was completed after scores for Tompkins and George North – job done.
Tompkins, on debut, came on temporarily for Johnny McNicholl early in the first half and then replaced Hadleigh Parkes on 53 minutes, showing a multitude of classy touches and touching down a try packed full of pace, subtlety and power.
“Nick Tompkins showed in the time that he was on the pitch that he’s got a lot of talent, a lot of ability and that’s why we were happy to sub him into the game when we did in the second half,” said Pivac.
“A lot of people now know who Nick Tompkins is!
“It was a pretty good overall performance from the point of view that we got the five points we were after, it wasn’t easy and we had to work hard for it as you could see.
“I’m very pleased to have held them scoreless, that doesn’t happen very often at this level of the game and also pleased for Byron Hayward coming in as defence coach that we achieved that – the boys worked very, very hard, even after the 80th minute scoring points.
“It’s something the boys want to do, they want to play a bit more and at times we achieved it, at times we might have overplayed so there’s plenty to work on.”
Prior to Tompkins’ scorching 59th minute effort that announced a new hero to the Welsh supporters, Adams had already inflicted much damage on Italy with his lethal first-half double.
The 24-year-old has now scored 13 international tries since the start of 2019, more than any other player, with Pivac more than pleased with his new attacking weapon.
He continued: “What I liked was his last try, he could’ve just parked up on his wing but after more than 80 minutes of play he’s up close to the ruck looking for the ball and using his strength to get over the line, I’m very pleased for him.
“I think on the world stage, on the biggest stage, he’s the top try-scorer, he’s got to be right up there and I think that speaks for itself really.”
Despite the 42-0 win the former Scarlets head coach picked out several areas for improvement, while acknowledging the trip to Dublin next weekend to face Ireland is an altogether different prospect.
“I think in the first half we were caught out quite a lot in terms of our reaction to the ball going out,” he added. “A couple of quick throw-ins, we had a jagged defensive line and they got too much yardage on us, just little things like that, just making sure we’re awake and don’t expose ourselves.
“Ireland will be massively different, we’ll review our performance and look at the areas we need to improve on. It’s going to be a tough task.”