Player Ratings: The Italian job
OPINION: The Italy fixture is fast becoming each weekend’s foregone conclusion, but Wayne Pivac named a strong side as they pursue a Six Nations Grand Slam.
It was a cakewalk, with Italy guaranteeing their sixth consecutive wooden spoon and their 31st consecutive Six Nations defeat. Still, it was a job that needed doing and Wales executed.
Ian Cameron gives us his Wales player ratings!
1. WYN JONES – 7
The scrum was the one area of the Italian game that Wales struggled to gain an upper hand. Other than that, another solid shift for one of the competition’s outstanding looseheads.
2. KEN OWENS – 8
The Sheriff carried hard and often and was rewarded with two first-half tries. The competition’s leading hooker.
3. TOMAS FRANCIS – 7
As mentioned previously, the Italians enjoyed scrum parity, but apart from that this was job done for the big Chief who was off after 45 minutes.
4. CORY HILL – 7
Even as 5.5’s go, Hill is particularly well-rounded. Brings a lot more in the loose than the far larger Adam Beard and Will Rowlands and, with Pivac looking to play with width and pace, was the right horse for this Italian course.
5. ALUN WYN JONES – 6
The strength of the Italian pack was once the crown jewel in a limited arsenal. They don’t even seem to boast that anymore and Jones and co happily dominated the abject Italians.
6. JOSH NAVIDI – 8
A more workmanlike shift from Navidi, but in the best sense of that phrase. The Italians more or self-destructing at the breakdown but he was fore of the bullying. His blind pass to Callum Sheedy was a highlight.
7. JUSTIN TIPURIC – 7
Played link man today, with 9 passes evidence of Wales’ eagerness to play with width and pass against the Italians.
8. TAULUPE FALETAU – 7
Enjoyed his afternoon canter in Rome, with another 84 carry metres to his name. That Lions Test No.8 jersey is his as it stands.
9. GARETH DAVIES – 6.5
Didn’t make any of the big plays that perhaps he would have liked to have given the current competition for the Welsh nine spot. Hard to fault all the same.
10. DAN BIGGAR – 8
An immaculate opening for the Saint. His flat, floating pass to put Josh Adams in was first class. It was armchair ride stuff for Biggar but he was, high tackle aside, practically faultless.
11. JOSH ADAMS – 5
Took his try with aplomb and was a constant threat with ball in hand, but as one of the best finishers in the game he’ll be gutted to have fluffed his 53rd minute effort and turned over
12. JONATHAN DAVIES – 7.5
A genuine return to form for the veteran. Starting at 12 he was inevitably asked to distribute more and quietly went about the business of creating for those around him.
13. GEORGE NORTH – 8
Carried with a pleasing level of violence. A slight criticism of North is that he doesn’t keep defences guessing, in so far as it’s apparent early in his possession what the Osprey intends to do. Stopping him is still a handful of course and his offload in lead up to LRZ’s disallowed try was mint. What a joyful sight it was to see North cut his way up the pitch for his 42nd-minute try.
14. LOUIS REES-ZAMMIT – 6.5
Unlucky to have his try disallowed by a particularly ungenerous TMO decision. As the player himself forecasted this week, he tried to make something happen every time he touched the ball and was maybe guilty of trying too hard. Got to stretch his legs for his intercept but it was low-hanging fruit for the speedster. The only player to have been shaded by his opposite number – Monty Ioane.
15. LIAM WILLIAMS – 7
Had very little to do defensively and was barely involved in attack in the first half. Could have been watching Netflix on a smartphone for all the difference it would have made given just how poor Italy were playing. Had a fair share of classy touches in the second half.
By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass