Wales break Six Nations duck with win over Italy in Rome
MATCH REPORT: Wales recorded their first win of the 2023 Six Nations season with a 29-17 victory over Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday.
The victory not only ensured Wales avoided the wooden spoon, but it also denied the Azzurri back-to-back wins over the Welsh.
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Rio Dyer, Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau all touched down in Rome with a penalty try adding to their score, claiming a bonus point victory and condemning Italy to their 25th straight home defeat in the competition.
Owen Williams also kicked seven points in a win which belied pre-match talk of the hosts being favourites against a Wales team which has had a troubled tournament.
Warren Gatland’s side leapfrog the Italians into fifth place on five points and will avoid finishing in last place for the first time in 20 years as long as the Azzurri don’t beat Scotland at Murrayfield next weekend.
Wales, who round off their campaign against France in Paris, had only scored three tries in their first three defeats but capitalised on an error-strewn performance from the Italians who without star fullback Ange Capuozzo regressed into bad habits of old.
Kieran Crowley’s Italy will have to go back to the drawing board after accruing a huge amount of goodwill with previous displays, in particular against France and Ireland.
They dotted down through twice through Sebastian Negri and Juan Ignacio Brex, with Tommaso Allan kicking seven points, but were always chasing the game at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
Man of the match: There was only one man who stood out and that is none other than Rhys Webb. The scrumhalf made his first start for Wales in more than two years and was incredible. He dictated much of the Welsh attack and also set up tries for Rio Dyer and Taulupe Faletau, respectively.
Moment of the match: There were a few moments that caused some pulses racing but the one that stood out was Sebastian Negri’s try in the 42nd minute. Trailing 3-22 at the break the Italians came out with intent and scored a try that lit up the Stadio Olimpico stadium.
Tries: Negri, Brex
Cons: Allan 2
Tries: Dyer, L. Williams, Penalty try, Faletau
Cons: O. Williams 2
Yellow cards: Lorenzo Cannone (Italy, 35 – collapsing the maul), Pierre Bruno (Italy, 45 – dangerous hand-off, leading with the forearm)
Italy: 15 Tommaso Allan, 14 Edoardo Padovani, 13 Juan Ignacio Brex, 12 Tommaso Menoncello, 11 Pierre Bruno, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Stephen Varney, 8 Lorenzo Cannone, 7 Michele Lamaro (captain), 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Niccolo Cannone, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Giacomo Nicotera, 1 Danilo Fischetti.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Edoardo Iachizzi, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Manuel Zuliani, 22 Alessandro Fusco, 23 Luca Morisi.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Josh Adams, 13 Mason Grady, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Rio Dyer, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric,6 Jac Morgan, 5 Dafydd Jenkins, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin,17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Rhys Davies,
20 Tommy Reffell, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 George North, 23 Louis Rees-Zammit
Referee: Damon Murphy (Australia)
Assistant referees: Karl Dickson (England), Chris Busby (Ireland)
TMO: Joy Neville (Ireland)
*AFP & @rugby365com