Wales expecting 'massive challenge' from France
REACTION: Wales coach Wayne Pivac warned his side were expecting a “different proposition” against France next weekend as they bid for the Six Nations Grand Slam after brushing aside Italy 48-7 in Rome.
Pivac’s men are in the running for a second title in three years as they build towards the 2023 World Cup.
“The big prize is working towards the World Cup in 2023,” said Pivac.
“This championship was always going to be a line in the sand for us. We have the opportunity now to go all the way.”
Seven tries punished a bundling young Azzurri side, including four in the first half, before wing Monty Ioane pulled one back to break to put the hosts on the scoreboard 50 minutes into the game.
Hooker Ken Owens crossed for two tries, with further scores from Josh Adams, Taulupe Faletau, George North, Callum Sheedy and Louis Rees-Zammit.
Pivac’s outfit can complete the tournament sweep by winning at the Stade de France against Le Bleus whose Grand Slam hopes were denied with a 23-20 defeat to England in Twickenham.
“They’re [France] going to be a different proposition. We know we’re in for a massive, massive game and challenge,” said Pivac.
Wales stuck to their plan and ran in four first-half tries for a bonus-point win, and then changed players in the second half with a view to the Paris trip.
“At a certain point, the game becomes a dress rehearsal for the game next week and defence was paramount.
“We achieved everything we wanted to in that half and it allowed us to rest some of the big boys.
“It was far from perfect, we weren’t as clinical as we’d like but the intent was there today [Saturday].
“We want to keep tweaking the attack and getting better and better and to make sure we continue got get our conversion rate right.”
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Playing their final game away from home does not daunt Pivac’s side with all matches behind closed doors because of COVID-19.
“We travelled out to Paris in the warm-up test before the year-end test series got underway. It will all be familiar territory for us,” the Kiwi said.
Pivac took over from Warren Gatland who lead Wales to the Grand Slam in 2019, beating Italy 42-0 in Cardiff before disappointing performances in the year-end [series].
“They’re chalk and cheese,” said the 58-year-old of Wales’s current campaign.
“We know the pain we went through in the year-end and they were certainly not the results we were after.
“But you’re seeing some of the players who got opportunities in the year-end playing out there now in the Six Nations, coming off the bench, some getting starts.”
The victory was Wales’s 16th consecutive win over Italy, their longest winning run against an opponent.
“I have to congratulate Wales,” said Italy coach Franco Smith, whose side extended their winless run in the tournament to 31 games.
“There were also doubts about their performances six months ago but they continued to work and won. We lack experience and are not at the level of these teams yet.”