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WATCH: Wales beat Italy in Rome – Highlights & Report.

Wales equal record run of victories after overcoming Italy at the Stadio Olimpico

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Written by Oliver Green
Photo by ANDREAS SOLARO/AFP/Getty Images

A Wales side that included 10 changes from round one secured a record-equalling 11th consecutive win with an uninspiring victory over Italy.

An almost unrecognisable team from a week ago relied heavily on the kicking prowess of Dan Biggar, who racked up four penalties and a conversion as the Welsh stumbled to a 26-15 victory.

Back row pair Thomas Young and Aaron Wainwright, scrum-half Aled Davies and winger Jonah Holmes were all making Six Nations debuts, while centre Jonathan Davies captained his country for the first time.

Wales will have the opportunity to break the record that has stood for over 100 years when they play England in Cardiff.

Josh Adams and Owen Watkin scored second-half tries to add to Biggar’s four penalties before the interval.

Italy stayed in touch thanks to a Braam Steyn try and a Tommaso Allan penalty.

Edoardo Padovani then added to his try against Scotland by crossing the whitewash with just over five minutes to go, in what proved to be a mere consolation.

The Italians set a record of their own with defeat; they have now lost the most matches in the tournament’s history. (19).

There were very few convincing performances from the players brought in by Wales head coach Warren Gatland, in a game he described as ‘a lesson in how to win ugly’.

That being said, Wasps flanker Young was industrious if not glamourous on his Six Nations debut and scrum-half Davies showed glimpses of the threat he can be around the breakdown.

It was one of the players who survived Gatland’s rotation of the squad who was most impressive though. Josh Navidi put in a man of the match performance from number eight after he was switched from flanker for this game.

How the action unfolded

With less than a minute on the clock, Italy gifted the inexperienced Welsh side a confidence booster, conceding a penalty which Biggar slotted with ease.

This set the tone for the half, with Wales enjoying the majority of the ball, and Biggar punishing the Italian ill-discipline from the tee.

Despite this, it was Italy who recorded the first try of the game just before half-time when Steyn powered over the line from five metres out.

The try stemmed from a miscued kick from Adams, and a bold call from Italy captain Sergio Parisse to kick for the corner instead of the posts.

After the conversion, Wales led by just five points at the break, which will have infuriated Gatland after his side had been so in control.

Wales started the second half in the same fashion as they finished the first, conceding three more points after more poor discipline.

With Wales’ young side struggling for answers to Italy’s dogged defence, Gatland sent on squad skipper Alun Wyn Jones to steady the ship.

Biggar was unable to replicate his first half kicking form as he missed two penalties in a matter of minutes as Wales looked as lethargic as ever in attack.

It wasn’t until a burst from number nine Davies and fullback Liam Williams slipping a couple of tackles that Wales showed any signs of penetration. Williams broke into the 22 and offloaded to Adams who touched down for only his second ever international try.

Wales continued to improve as more experience was introduced from the bench in Gareth Anscombe, with Davies seeing a try ruled out for a knock-on after a clever chip. Anscombe then repeated the feat with a chip of his own, which Watkins dived on to score his first try for Wales.

Italy fly-half Allan then beat the Welsh defence to set up Padovani in the corner as the home side refused to roll over. Just moments before Wales had another try disallowed after a forward pass; yet another occasion where they failed to be as clinical as last week.

The deficit proved too much for Italy to recover however, and Wales finished the game as 26-15 winners.

It was far from a vintage performance from Wales, who will point to the number of changes made by Gatland as a reason for the drop in quality from round one.

If Wales want to break the record set in 1910 by beating England in two weeks’ time, they will require a much sharper display than they produced in Rome.

As for Italy, they can hold their heads high after a battling performance and some good rugby. However, they will need to improve on their discipline for two weeks, as Ireland will not be as forgiving as Wales indivertibly were today.

6 Nations

Scotland name strong team for Wales

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Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

Issued by SRU

Stuart Hogg will return to the Scotland starting line-up as Captain for the final round of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations against Wales on Saturday 31 October – kick-off 2:15pm.

Fresh from securing the European and Premiership double with his club Exeter Chiefs, Hogg plays at full back as one of five changes to the starting XV from the Scotland side that defeated Georgia 48-7 last week.

Finn Russell lines up at fly-half after winning his 50th Scotland cap in the Georgia victory at BT Murrayfield on Friday night, and is joined in the half-backs by Glasgow Warriors’ Ali Price.

In the back division, Blair Kinghorn shifts to the wing from full-back and replaces Edinburgh teammate Duhan van de Merwe, who is named among the replacements. James Lang and Chris Harris continue their centre partnership after playing together against Georgia.

In the pack fellow Exeter Chief Jonny Gray comes into the second row and Scarlets’ Blade Thomson is selected at number 8 and will run out on his club ground on Saturday in Llanelli.Hooker Fraser Brown is named as Vice-Captain and packs down with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson in an unchanged front row.

Scott Cummings also retains his starting place to partner Gray in the second row.Edinburgh pair Jamie Ritchie, also a Vice Captain, and Hamish Watson make up the back-row with Thomson.

In the replacements Harlequins scrum-half Scott Steele could make his Scotland debut if called into action.

Adam Hastings and van de Merwe complete the backline replacements. Townsend can also call upon the same front row of Oli Kebble, Stuart McInally and Simon Berghan as featured in against Georgia, alongside Worcester Warrior Cornell du Preez and Edinburgh’s Ben Toolis from the bench.

“As a group we are very much looking forward to finally completing our fixture against Wales and returning to play Guinness Six Nations rugby again. We were highly motivated back in March, and that extra edge has come back into our training and preparations this week.
Scotland Head Coach, Gregor Townsend

“It’s been great to bring in quality and experience to our starting line-up with players such as Stuart, Jonny and Finn who have been involved in some high-level games in recent weeks. We were also encouraged by Blade’s display at the weekend for Scarlets, which is a timely boost given last weekend’s injury to Matt Fagerson.

“We are expecting a physical battle against a very good side, one which we will be working hard to stay in the fight and to finish the fight in Llanelli. Ultimately, this game provides an opportunity for us to end this extended championship on a positive note and go into the Autumn Nations Cup with some added belief in what this group of players can achieve.”

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6 Nations

Wales XV announced for 6 Nations finale v Scotland.

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Photo by John Berry/Getty Images

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones will become rugby’s most capped international on Saturday when he makes his 149th test appearance (140th for Wales plus 9 British & Irish Lions caps).

Jones levelled the record last weekend but will take the honour for himself at Parc y Scarlets this weekend as Wales face Scotland in their re-arranged Guinness Six Nations finale (14.15 KO BBC & S4C).

At the other end of the international spectrum, Cardiff Blues back-row Shane Lewis-Hughes will make his first test appearance for Wales in a back-row alongside experienced Lions duo Justin Tipuric and Taulupe Faletau.

Will Rowlands, fresh from the English Premiership Final with Wasps, comes into the side to make his first start for Wales and he packs down alongside captain Jones.

European Champion and English Premiership winner Tomas Francis comes into the front-row alongside Rhys Carre and Ryan Elias.

In the backline Gareth Davies partners Dan Biggar with Owen Watkin coming into the midfield alongside Jonathan Davies.

Liam Williams returns to the back-three to feature alongside Josh Adams and Leigh Halfpenny.

On the bench Sam Parry, Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis provide the front-row replacements with Cory Hill and James Davies completing the forward contingent. Lloyd Williams comes straight into the matchday squad and provides backline cover along with Rhys Patchell and Nick Tompkins.

Issued by WRU

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6 Nations

England name team to face Italy

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(Photo by Bob Bradford - CameraSport via Getty Images)

Issued by Rugby Football Union

Eddie Jones has named his team for England’s key Guinness Six Nations tie against Italy on Saturday [31 October].

Ben Youngs is set to make his 100th cap for his country, at scrum half – becoming the second most capped England men’s player of all time after Jason Leonard (114 caps). Youngs made his senior team debut against Scotland in March 2010, where he came on as a substitute in the Calcutta Cup.

There is also a milestone for hooker Jamie George, who will make his 50th appearance for England this weekend.

Both players will lead England out at the Stadio Olimpico. England need a bonus-point win to put them in contention for winning the tournament, depending on the result in France v Ireland, which follows the game in Rome.

Jonny Hill will make his England debut at lock, while Owen Farrell, starting at fly-half, will captain the side. Henry Slade is at inside centre while Jonathan Joseph returns for England at outside centre.

George Furbank is named at full back with Jonny May and Anthony Watson on the wings.

Kyle Sinckler will play tighthead and Mako Vunipola loosehead in the front row. Maro Itoje completes the tight five.

Sam Underhill is named at open-side flanker with Tom Curry named at blind-side flanker and Billy Vunipola, returning from injury for England for the first time since the Rugby World Cup Final, at No. 8.

Uncapped trio Tom Dunn, Ollie Lawrence and Ollie Thorley are named as finishers, alongside scrum half Dan Robson. Props Ellis Genge and Will Stuart also join the bench with Charlie Ewels and Ben Earl.

Jones said: “We’ve trained with good intensity this week and the squad are excited by the challenge of performing at our best against Italy.

“The team have prepared well and are looking forward to putting on an England shirt and showing what they can do.

“We will also celebrate two major achievements in Ben Youngs and Jamie George’s cap milestones. It’s testimony to their skill, hard work and love of playing for England, and there is more to come from both of them.”

Italy v England is live on ITV 1 and BBC Radio 5 Live (4.45pm GMT KO).

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