Mon, Feb 11, 2019 - Page 10 News List

Wales see off Italy; Ireland revive bid

‘EMBARRASSING’:Wales dominated possession, but they took 54 minutes to score their first try, having respected Italy too much in the first half when they kicked four penalties

Reuters, ROME

Wales’ Owen Watkin scores their second try in their Six Nations Championship match against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy, on Saturday.

Photo: Reuters

Wales struggled to overpower Italy 26-15 in the Six Nations on Saturday, notching up a record-equaling 11th straight victory to become the first Welsh team to enjoy such a win streak in more than a century, but failing to sparkle.

Wales dominated possession, but scored only two tries in a performance unlikely to cause concern for England, their next opponents.

The visitors took 54 minutes to score their first try, when winger Josh Adams touched down, having respected the home side too much in the first half when starting flyhalf Dan Biggar kicked four penalties.

“If we play like that against England, it could be embarrassing,” Wales head coach Warren Gatland told ITV Sport, barely savoring the fact that he had just steered the team to equal a Welsh record that was set from 1907 to 1910.

Center Jonathan Davies, who captained Wales for the first time, also seemed annoyed.

“I think there was a lot of frustration,” Davies said, adding that Wales had failed to generate enough points despite dominating territory and Italy giving up 11 penalties, almost twice the number handed to the visitors.

Gatland had made 10 changes from the side that came from 16 points behind to beat France in Paris, bringing back Dan Biggar as flyhalf in place of Gareth Anscombe and teaming him with new scrumhalf Aled Davies.

Biggar played well with ball in hand, but lacked precision when kicking for field position. He was replaced by the more accurate Anscombe early in the second half.

Despite Wales dominating territory and possession for the first 30 minutes, Italy scored the first try.

South African-born flanker Brahm Steyn barged across the line close to halftime, breathing hope into the perennial wooden-spooners who have now lost 19 straight Six Nations matches stretching back to 2015, a record for the tournament.

The long-suffering Rome crowd also came alive, but Italy continued to concede too many penalties, squandering possession and momentum.

In the second half, both sides threatened, each scoring a try in the final 10 minutes — through Wales center Owen Watkin and Italy winger Edoardo Padovani — but the result never looked seriously in doubt.

Italy coach Conor O’Shea, who ushered in a new brand of attacking rugby when he took over in 2016, could come under growing pressure to reconsider his tactics.



Ireland got their Six Nations campaign back on track with a pulsating 22-13 victory over Scotland on Saturday, but the physical encounter meant that both sides lost players to injury early on.

Scotland’s livewire fullback Stuart Hogg and Ireland’s flyhalf and world player of the year Jonathan Sexton limped off in a close first half, during which the visitors outscored Scotland with two tries to one through Conor Murray and Jacob Stockdale.

Ireland, beaten by England in the opening game last weekend, added a third try after the break at Murrayfield as replacement flyhalf Joey Carbery sliced through a gap before flinging a wide pass for winger Keith Earls to score.

While Scotland hammered away at Ireland on a clear afternoon that defied pre-game expectations of high winds from Storm Erik, the home side could not add to a single try from center Sam Johnson.

Ireland captain Rory Best hailed a strong performance from Sexton’s replacement, Carbery, who recovered from throwing an intercepted pass for the only Scottish try to enjoy an influential second half.

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