Match Report

Wales hold off Italy to make it 11 wins on the spin

Italy gave Wales a real fright in Rome but Josh Adams and Owen Watkin’s late scores saw Warren Gatland’s side hold on for a record-equalling 11th Test win in a row.

Italy gave Wales a real fright in Rome but Josh Adams and Owen Watkin’s late scores saw Warren Gatland’s side hold on for a record-equalling 11th Test win in a row.

Wales – showing ten changes from last week’s win in Paris – opened a 12-0 first-half lead through the boot of Dan Biggar.

But the Azzurri came storming back either side of the interval, Braam Steyn going over for a score and Tommaso Allan kicking a penalty to trim the lead to two points.

However, in the final quarter Gatland emptied his bench and Wales sealed the win as Adams went over down the left before Watkin dotted down Gareth Anscombe’s cute grubber.

Wales have now equalled their best-ever winning run in Tests at 11, and top the Guinness Six Nations standings as the only team to have won two from two before Sunday’s Le Crunch.

Meanwhile, Conor O’Shea’s Italy side can take real heart from the way they rattled the Welsh either side of the interval and Edoardo Padovani’s late consolation mean the try count finished two apiece.


After a week training on the French Riviera, Wales’ much-changed side came storming out of the blocks in Rome.

The game was less than a minute old when Elliot Dee got over the ball at a breakdown, won a penalty and Dan Biggar chipped the visitors into a 3-0 lead.

The hosts needed to settle and Angelo Esposito in particular was looking bright down the left.

In truth, the game was a little low on quality, Welsh handling errors – like in the first half in Paris let week – killing their momentum.

But the boot of Biggar was providing a decent outlet, two more penalties putting the visitors into a 9-0 lead inside 20 minutes.

And the fly-half was at it again before the half-hour mark, doing fantastically well to reclaim Aled Davies box kick and set up Wales deep in Italy’s 22.

Italy defended well to rebuff Gatland’s side but another penalty was earned and slotted by Biggar for a 12-point lead.

The Azzurri’s response came before the break though, a horror kick from Josh Adams freeing Esposito initially before a lineout maul directed by skipper Sergio Parisse took them even closer.

And when the ball was spread right, Steyn managed to get over and score the game’s first try.

Allan slotted the extras and could have trimmed the lead further on the stroke of half time with a penalty as the Welsh scrum and lineout began to creak, but it hit the post and the visitors survived to the break, leading 12-7.


Allan made amends on the resumption however, slotting over from right in front when Thomas Young was pinged at the breakdown.

Now the gap had closed to 12-10 and Wales looked a little rattled, Biggar guilty of twice kicking out on the full and missing touch with another.

But not for nothing were the Welsh on a 10-Test winning run coming into the game, and before the hour mark they got the score they needed.

Aled Davies made the initial dart and then when the ball was spread left, Liam Williams fed Adams to go over and get round under the posts.

Biggar’s final act was to add the simple extras and Wales were back into a two-score lead at 19-10.

The tempo went out of the game somewhat around the hour mark before Jonathan Davies – making his bow as Wales skipper – slid over for what looked like a score in the left corner.

The TMO adjudged it a knock on in the end but there was no doubting who was on top as the final quarter wore on.

The likes of Alun Wyn Jones and Gareth Davies had brought their experience off the bench, the Welsh scrum was back in control and the pressure soon told.

Gareth Anscombe, on for Biggar, put a clever dink through and Watkin won the foot race to dot it down.

Anscombe added the extras for a 26-10 lead and, with victory now secured, Wales had ten minutes left to chase two tries for the bonus point.

But it was Italy who finished the game on top, Allan wrapping around to break through down the right and put Padovani over in the corner for a consolation.


Wales skipper for the day Jonathan Davies: “I think there was a lot of frustration in the performance, that accuracy to turn pressure into points was what we lacked.

“We have come to a difficult place to play rugby and got a result. We expected to be smarter and cleaner with the ball. But it was great to show the depth of the squad and we are looking forward to a big match in two weeks’ time against England.”


Josh Navidi claimed the man of the match award for another all-action display in the back row.

He showcased his versatility in these first two rounds, tackling everything that moved in Round One in Paris and then sliding to No.8 here and controlling the Welsh forward effort.

He finished with seven carries and nine tackles as Wales turned the screw in the second half.


With the teams only two points apart, it was Adams’ score that effectively sealed this contest.

The winger got clear down the left after fine work from Liam Williams to release him – and from there on out there only looked like being one winner.