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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

Ireland Make Seven Changes For Italy

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(Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images)

The Ireland coaching group have made seven changes to the side that started against France in round 2 of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship. There are two uncapped players in the replacements.

Craig Casey, who was on the bench for the game against France, and Ryan Baird are in line for their first international caps in Stadio Olimpico on Saturday afternoon.

Johnny Sexton returns to captain the side and partners Jamison Gibson Park in the halfbacks.

This weekend has come too soon for Conor Murray who is continuing his hamstring rehab.

Robbie Henshaw, who earns his 50th cap for Ireland, will again partner Garry Ringrose in the midfield. Henshaw made his Ireland debut against USA on the 2013 Summer Tour, a few days before his 20th birthday.

Hugo Keenan retains the No.15 jersey with James Lowe on the left wing and Jordan Larmour coming in on the right hand side.

A new front row combination of Dave Kilcoyne, Ronan Kelleher and Tadgh Furlong is set to start.

James Ryan returns to the second row to partner  Iain Henderson.

Tadgh Beirne shifts to the backrow filling the blindside role with Will Connors at openside and CJ Stander at No.8.

The replacements for the weekend are Rob Herring, Cian Healy, Andrew Porter, Jack Conan, Billy Burns, Keith Earls and the uncapped duo of Baird and Casey

IRELAND Team & Replacements (v Italy, 2021 Guinness Six Nations Championship, Stadio Olimpico , Saturday, February 27, kick-off 2:15pm):

Player/Club/Province/Caps –

15. Hugo Keenan (Leinster/UCD) 8 caps
14. Jordan Larmour (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 26 caps
13. Garry Ringrose (Leinster/UCD) 32 caps
12. Robbie Henshaw (Leinster/Buccaneers) 49 caps
11. James Lowe (Leinster) 4 caps
10. Jonathan Sexton (Leinster/St Mary’s College) 96 caps CAPTAIN
9.
 Jamison Gibson Park (Leinster) 7 caps
1. Dave Kilcoyne (Munster/UL Bohemians) 40 caps
2. Ronan Kelleher (Leinster/Lansdowne) 8 caps
3. Tadhg Furlong (Leinster/Clontarf) 46 caps
4. Iain Henderson (Ulster/Academy) 60 caps
5. James Ryan (Leinster/UCD) 33 caps
6. Tadhg Beirne (Munster/Lansdowne) 19 caps
7. Will Connors (Leinster/UCD) 7 caps
8. CJ Stander (Munster/Shannon) 48 caps

Replacements

16. Rob Herring (Ulster/Ballynahinch) 18 caps
17. Cian Healy (Leinster/Clontarf) 106 caps
18. Andrew Porter (Leinster/UCD) 34 caps
19. Ryan Baird (Leinster/Dublin University) uncapped
20. Jack Conan (Leinster/Old Belvedere) 17 caps
21. Craig Casey (Munster/Shannon) uncapped
22. Billy Burns (Ulster) 5 caps
23. Keith Earls (Munster/Young Munster) 90 caps

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6 Nations

England name team for Round 3 v Wales

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(Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Eddie Jones has named his side for this weekend’s key Guinness Six Nations match against Wales.

England will travel to Cardiff to take on Wales at the Principality Stadium on Saturday 27 February (4.45pm KO).

Elliot Daly is set to make his 50th appearance for England, at full back.  Daly made his England debut in February 2016 in a 21-10 victory over Ireland.

Captain Owen Farrell is at inside centre, Henry Slade at outside centre and George Ford stays at fly half.  Ben Youngs continues at scrum half, with Jonny May (left) and Anthony Watson (right) on the wings.

Jamie George returns at hooker, with Mako Vunipola and Kyle Sinckler as props alongside in the front row.  Maro Itoje and Jonny Hill stay in the second row.

Mark Wilson starts as blind-side flanker, Tom Curry is open-side flanker and Billy Vunipola continues at No. 8.

George Martin could make his England debut after being named as finisher.  Luke Cowan-Dickie, Ellis Genge, Will Stuart, Charlie Ewels, Ben Earl, Dan Robson and Max Malins make up the finishers.

Eddie Jones said: “Wales is a really special fixture and rivalry.  There is a long history between the two nations and the game means a lot to both countries.

“We know we’ll be up against a strong Welsh challenge on Saturday, but we’ve worked really hard in training this week and have got a very good team to face it.

“We want to show people what we are capable of, keep building our performances and the best is yet to come from this England team.”

In their remaining championship fixtures, England will then play France at Twickenham Stadium on Saturday 13 March (4.45pm KO) before travelling to Dublin to take on Ireland on Saturday 20 March (4.45pm KO).

Wales v England is live on BBC One and BBC Radio 5 Live.

England XV Starters
15. Elliot Daly (Saracens, 49 caps)
14. Anthony Watson (Bath Rugby, 48 caps)
13. Henry Slade (Exeter Chiefs, 36 caps)
12. Owen Farrell (Saracens, 90 caps)
11. Jonny May (Gloucester Rugby, 63 caps)
10. George Ford (Leicester Tigers, 74 caps)
9. Ben Youngs (Leicester Tigers, 106 caps)
1. Mako Vunipola (Saracens, 64 caps)
2. Jamie George (Saracens, 56 caps)
3. Kyle Sinckler (Bristol Bears, 41 caps)
4. Maro Itoje (Saracens, 45 caps)
5. Jonny Hill (Exeter Chiefs, 6 caps)
6. Mark Wilson (Newcastle Falcons, 20 caps)
7. Tom Curry (Sale Sharks, 30 caps)
8. Billy Vunipola (Saracens, 58 caps)
 
Finishers
16. Luke Cowan-Dickie (Exeter Chiefs, 28 caps)
17. Ellis Genge (Leicester Tigers, 25 caps)
18. Will Stuart (Bath Rugby, 10 caps)
19. Charlie Ewels (Bath Rugby, 18 caps)
20. George Martin (Leicester Tigers, uncapped)
21. Ben Earl (Bristol Bears, 10 caps)
22. Dan Robson (Wasps, 9 caps)
23. Max Malins (Bristol Bears, 5 caps)
ENDS

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6 Nations

Huge boost for Ulster & Ireland as Henderson signs new deal

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster captain, Iain Henderson, who has represented the province on 116 occasions, has secured his future with the club for the next two years.

Craigavon-born Henderson, who took up the role of Ulster captain in 2019, has progressed through the Ulster development system. Starting with mini rugby at Academy RFC, his early playing career saw him reach the final of the Danske Bank Schools Cup in 2010 with Belfast Royal Academy, represent Queen’s University Belfast as well as Ireland at Age-Grade level, before quickly rising through the ranks of senior professional rugby in the province.

Iain, who captained Ireland for the first time against France in this year’s Guinness Six Nations, made his international debut against South Africa in November 2012 and has won 60 caps to date for his country. 

A Lions tourist in 2017, Iain succeeded Rory Best as Ulster captain in 2019.  

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Over the past few seasons Iain has really developed into a leader within both the Ireland and Ulster squads. He is part of the national leadership group, captaining Ireland recently for the first time and we are delighted to have ensured that he continues his career in Ireland.”

Iain Henderson, commented,

“It has been a great honour to captain both Ulster and Ireland in recent times. Irish rugby is in a good place despite the disruption the sport has experienced during the pandemic. As professionals, we have been in a privileged position to be able to continue playing and I know we all hope to see supporters back in the Aviva and Kingspan in the near future.”

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