Player ratings: Winning ugly
OPINION: It might not have been pretty and the expected bonus-point assault did not materialise in Rome, but ultimately Wales got the job done with a 26-15 victory over Italy in the Stadio Olimpico.
Wales were the better side for the majority of the contest but found it hard to break down a resolute Italian defence and only had four Dan Biggar penalties to show for their endeavours at half-time.
Gatland would have taken two wins from two had he been offered that ahead of the Championship but he will know there is work to be done as attention turns to the visit of England to the Principality Stadium in a fortnight.
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15 Liam Williams – 7
Excellent again on both sides of the ball. Rarely found wanting when forced to defend, and was able to ease pressure on Wales on several occasions thanks to his positioning and ability to recycle possession. Is Gatland’s most lethal attacking weapon in the opposition 22 as he displayed with a key role for Adams’ try.
14 Jonah Holmes – 6
A very solid Six Nations debut for the Leicester man. Carried to good effect either on his wing or when he came into midfield to make use of his power and pace. Did not do his Rugby World Cup hopes any harm in Rome.
13 Jonathan Davies – 5
Almost capped his big night with a try but saw his effort rather harshly chalked off for a knock-on. Could perhaps have been a little more bold as captain in the first 40 minutes and should have used Williams instead of looking for a Hollywood pass to Holmes with the try line begging. Was not his usual impenetrable self in defence as he missed two tackles.
12 Owen Watkin – 6
Got his reward for an evening of hard work as he raced onto Gareth Anscombe’s chip to score his side’s second try. Was a constant carrying threat in midfield and stood up to Italy’s physicality in defence.
11 Josh Adams – 7
His try was just reward for another impressive performance, one wayward first-half clearance aside. His ability under the high ball and willingness to look to counter when fielding kicks is becoming an invaluable tool for Wales.
Dan Biggar – 7
Kept the scoreboard ticking over in Wales’ favour in the first half and provided a lovely pass in the build-up for Adams’ try. Also showed the threat he offers on the kick chase as he rose above Edoardo Padovani to gather an Aled Davies up and under. Gave way to Gareth Anscombe as Wales looked for greater penetration.
9 Aled Davies – 6
A mixed night for the Ospreys man. Was a positive presence throughout his time on the pitch, looking to keep Wales moving forward, and it was ultimately his blindside break that led to Adams’ try. However, was often ponderous when deciding what to do at rucks and mauls.
1 Nicky Smith – 6
Another who will be pleased to have got some minutes under his belt following an injury lay-off. Gave away a couple of penalties and was unable to prevent Braam Steyn scoring at the end of the first half. But can be happy with his scrummaging and play in the loose.
2 Elliot Dee – 6
Won the battle of the hookers against Leonardo Ghiraldini at scrum time. He also won the first minute penalty that allowed Biggar to open the scoring. He was guilty of one wayward lineout at the end of the first half and also coughed possession on a driving maul. But will emerge from this game with credit.
3 Samson Lee – 6
Put in a good shift on his return to the starting line-up. Enjoyed a solid evening in the scrum and defence while showing his ability in the loose as well. One early carry allowed Wales to build possession in the Italian half.
4 Jake Ball – 5
Will be glad for the miles put on his clock in Rome. Made five tackles in defence and provided a carrying option in the first half. But will know he can play better.
5 Adam Beard – 5
Has become a fixture in the Welsh second-row as a result of his height and power but was unable to find the rhythm of the contest in Rome. Knocked on as Wales built possession inside the Italian half early on and also gave away the penalty that Tommaso Allan squandered on the stroke of half-time. To his credit it was Beard who mopped up possession after the Italy fly-half had struck the upright.
6 Aaron Wainwright – 6
Not the standout performance of his fledgling Wales career but was a willing runner in midfield and made a couple of useful breaks. He also stole a lineout. All in all a good day at the office.
7 Thomas Young – 8
Was denied a debut Six Nations try by a forward pass in midfield. It would have capped a fine display from the Wasps man who must have pushed Josh Navidi hard for man-of-the-match honours. Set the tone in the first minute as his tackle helped Dee secure a turnover and was a constant menace on each side of the ball.
8 Josh Navidi – 8
Was a deserved man of the match. Offered another excellent defensive display, helping to force turnovers and keep Wales on the front foot. Also provided the carrying threat of a much bigger man and won the battle of the number eights. Can be excused an errant pass into the body of Sergio Parisse.
Wyn Jones – 6
Came on in the final quarter and was part of the scrum that won a penalty against the head.
Ryan Elias – 6
Connected with his one lineout throw but otherwise not afforded enough time to make his mark.
Dillon Lewis – 6
Came on early in the second half and played a pivotal role as Wales secured a crucial scrum penalty.
Alun Wyn Jones – 6
Was summonsed at a pivotal time of the match and provided calm authority. Got through his fare share of work in defence too.
Ross Moriarty – 6
Thirteen more minutes in the tank on his return from concussion. Provided much needed energy on both sides of the ball.
Gareth Davies – 5
Replaced namesake Aled in the final quarter and his assuredness helped Wales over the line.
Gareth Anscombe – 6
Brought on to provide some urgency and impetus. Highlighted exactly what he brings to the side with a deft chip over the Italian defence that Watkin raced onto to score.
Hallam Amos – 5
Like Moriarty, Amos will be glad of the 13 minutes he got on the pitch as he continues his recovery from injury. Didn’t have much chance to shine.
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