Tue, Feb 07, 2017 - Page 16 News List

Wales need to be relentless: Howley

AFP, ROME

Italy’s Tommaso Benvenuti, left, tackles Jonathan Davies of Wales in their Six Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Sunday.

Photo: AP

Interim coach Rob Howley called on Wales to “improve in all areas” before facing England after overcoming a tedious first half to secure a 33-7 win over Italy in their Six Nations opener on Sunday.

Wales sit on top of the table on points difference after a weekend that saw Scotland stun Ireland and England snatch a comeback win over France, but Howley, standing in for Warren Gatland while he is on British and Irish Lions duty, said that Wales would need to lift their game before tackling Grand Slam champions England on Saturday in Cardiff.

“We want to improve in all areas,” said Howley, who will await assessments on the fitness of flyhalf Dan Biggar and wing George North after both received knocks against Italy.

Biggar failed to return after halftime at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico with injured ribs, while North took a blow to his thigh, but played on in obvious discomfort.

“We use the word relentless, with and without the ball, there were aspects of our game today when we weren’t relentless,” Howley said. “We’ll have to put England under more pressure than we did against Italy. That’s going to be the challenge.”

Howley was quick to put the performance into perspective.

“We know how tough it is to come to Italy. The conditions made it even tougher and we’re pleased, but we’ll move on quickly and focus on the next one,” he said. “As I said to the players before the game, it’s important for us to start competitions well. We haven’t [won our opening game] since 2014, so I’m glad from that perspective that we can go into the next game with a little bit more belief and confidence.”

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