'Nothing to Fear': Confident Wales set sight on France
REACTION: Wales captain Ken Owens said his team have nothing to lose in their final Six Nations match against France next weekend after seeing off Italy in Rome on Saturday and ending a miserable period for his team.
Wales ran out 29-17 winners at the Stadio Olimpico to move off the bottom of the table and a step closer to avoiding their first wooden spoon in two decades.
The bonus-point victory comes after a troubled tournament for Wales in which a player strike was narrowly avoided with the Rugby World Cup starting in France in September.
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“There’s been a lot going on over the last six or seven weeks on and off the field, but we’ve worked hard. It was good to see that enjoyment, working for each other,” Owens told reporters.
“We’ll grow from this, we’ve lacked a bit of confidence the last couple of weeks but on Saturday we were confident and patient, and we problem-solved. Now it’s another challenge against France then on to the World Cup.
“We’ll be confident going to Paris, they are one of the best teams in the world, and they’re on a phenomenal run, but we’ve got nothing to fear, nothing to lose.”
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Crowley seeks balance
Italy coach Kieran Crowley said he will not be changing his side’s bold style of play despite another error-strewn start which left them playing catch-up and has them at risk of picking up their eighth wooden spoon in a row.
The Azzurri were 3-22 down in little more than half an hour, and each try came after a slip or mistake which allowed Wales to dot down.
Their rapid passing game also came unstuck on several occasions while trying to build attacks, with a number of chances going begging due to handling errors or bad decision-making.
“Italy are where they are because of how they’ve played over the last 10 years,” Crowley said.
“If we keep doing the same thing we’ve always done we’re always going to be in the same place.
“The boys have bought into what we’re trying to do and yes it has risk and that risk has cost us again. So we’re still looking at how to get that balance right.
“If we want to push ourselves into the top five or six or seven [in the world rankings] we’ve got to do something different, while I’m here we’ll still be going like this.”