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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

May Issues Injury Update

England ace Jonny May has provided the public with an injury update after undergoing surgery

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(Photo by David Rogers - RFU/The RFU Collection via Getty Images)

England winger Jonny May has taken to social media to provide the public with an update on his fractured cheekbone.

The 29-year-old picked up the injury early on in England’s win over Wales in the Six Nations and was forced off. It was later revealed that he would have to undergo surgery, but following that he has said he is raring to go and be sharper than before. 

“It’s never good picking up an injury but I will use this as an opportunity to regenerate/sharpen up and will be doing everything I can to get back on the pitch as soon as possible,” he said in his post. 

There is no exact timeline on when May could return to Premiership side Leicester Tigers and feature, with the club claiming he will miss an “extended period” after the surgery. 

However, with many leagues across the globe putting a halt to their campaigns due to the coronavirus outbreak, reports claim that the Premiership will follow suit in the next couple of days meaning it means May might not miss much rugby at all while injured. 

Depending on how it all works out May will probably be aiming for a return before the summer in order to get some minutes under his belt before England take on Japan in their two-test tour. 

It’s all up in the air at the moment, but it’s good to know that May is on the mend and relishing a return to play.

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6 Nations

Wales Switch Four for Scotland Game

Wales have made four changes to their starting line-up for this weekend’s Six Nations clash with Scotland

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(ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Wales head coach Wayne Pivac has made a total of four changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations game with Scotland in the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

Three of the four changes come in the pack with Wyn Jones and WillGriff John coming into the front-row, while Cory Hill comes in for Jake Ball in the second-row, in what will be his first test start for over a year. 

The only alteration in the backs sees Rhys Webb take the place of Gareth Davies, who drops to the bench. 

Elsewhere it’s the same as last time out against England with Ken Owens in the front-three alongside Jones and John, while Hill links up with captain Alun Wyn Jones in the second-row, with the skipper set to equal the world record for test caps with 148 during the game. 

The back-row has remained the same with Ross Moriarty staying in as blindside-flanker, Justin Tipuric continues on the openside and Josh Navidi remains at No 8. 

Webb partners Dan Biggar in the half-backs, while Hadleigh Parkes and Nick Tompkins are once again used in the centre-pairing. 

Liam Williams takes his place on the left-wing again, with George North on the right and Leigh Halfpenny finishes off the starting XV from full-back. 

On the bench there is a huge amount of talent with the likes of Rhys Carre, Taulupe Faletau and Johnny McNicholl joining Davies among the replacements. 

Speaking ahead of the game Pivac paid tribute to his captain and hopes the team can get a much-needed win. 

“Saturday is a great opportunity for us to wrap up the campaign with a big performance at home in Cardiff. We want to finish with the performance we know we can deliver and we have been working hard to get there. Alun Wyn is one of the most iconic figures in the game, he is our leader and I’m delighted for him as he continues to set the bar across the game,” he said. 

Wales will hope to avoid a fourth defeat in a row when they take on the Scots on Saturday, but they come up against a side who are on a high after seeing off Italy and France in their last two games. 

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below. 

Starting XV: 

Leigh Halfpenny; George North, Nick Tompkins, Hadleigh Parkes, Liam Williams; Dan Biggar, Rhys Webb; Wyn Jones, Ken Owens, WillGriff John; Cory Hill, Alun Wyn Jones (C); Ross Moriarty, Justin Tipuric, Josh Navidi

Replacements: 

Ryan Elias, Rhys Carre, Leon Brown, Will Rowlands, Taulupe Faletau, Gareth Davies, Jarrod Evans, Johnny McNicholl

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6 Nations

Scotland Change Three for Welsh Test

Scotland have made a total of three changes to their starting line-up for their final game in this year’s Six Nations against Wales

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland head coach Gregor Townsend has made three changes to his starting XV for this Saturday’s Six Nations clash with Wales at the Principality Stadium at 14 15.

All the changes come in the forwards with Stuart McInally taking over at hooker from Fraser Brown, who in turn drops to the bench.

Like Brown, Scott Cummings also move to the replacements as Sam Skinner takes a spot in the second-row and lastly Magnus Bradbury replaces Nick Haining at No 8, with Haining currently ill.

Elsewhere it’s as you where from the team that defeated France last weekend with Rory Sutherland and Zander Fagerson either side of McInally in the front-row, while Skinner joins Grant Gilchrist in the engine-room.

Jamie Ritchie continues as blindside-flanker, with Hamish Watson on the openside and Bradbury completes the pack from No 8.

Ali Price remains at scrum-half, with Adam Hastings at fly-half, and they have Sam Johnson and Chris Harris outside them in the midfield pairing.

Blair Kinghorn is once again on the left-wing, with two-try hero from last weekend Sean Maitland continuing on the right and Stuart Hogg captains the side from full-back.

There is a mix of experience and youth on the bench with the likes of Brown and Cummings being joined by Matt Fagerson and Kyle Steyn among the replacements.

Speaking ahead of the game Townsend admitted he is hoping that his team can build on their win last week.

“We set out this season to improve our consistency over a run of five tough games, something we have done well so far. We’ve stayed in the fight in every game, which is a credit to how hard the players have worked in training and during the Tests. It’s also been encouraging to see how well the players have grown together and have taken on board the input from new coaches, Steve (Tandy) and Pieter (de Villiers), who have done a great job in their first season with the team. We have huge respect for the Welsh team, who narrowly missed out on a World Cup final a few months ago. They are well-coached and have some outstanding players. It will be a fantastic occasion and one last opportunity to play to our potential in this championship,” he said.

Scotland will hope that they can pull off a first win on Welsh soil for 18 years on Saturday and know victory will see them finish above their rivals in the table. However, they will face a Welsh team desperate to avoid a fourth loss in a row.

Check Out the Full 23-Man Squad Below.

Starting XV:

  1. Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) – 76 caps
  2. Sean Maitland (Saracens) – 48 caps
  3. Chris Harris (Gloucester) – 18 caps
  4. Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  5. Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh) – 21 caps
  6. Adam Hastings (Glasgow Warriors) – 20 caps
  7. Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) – 32 caps
  8. Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh) – 7 caps
  9. Stuart McInally (Edinburgh) – 37 caps
  10. Zander Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 29 caps
  11. Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) – 7 caps
  12. Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh) – 42 caps
  13. Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh) – 18 caps
  14. Hamish Watson (Edinburgh) – 32 caps
  15. Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh) – 14 caps

Replacements:

  1. Fraser Brown (Glasgow Warriors) – 50 caps
  2. Allan Dell (London Irish) – 32 caps
  3. Willem Nel (Edinburgh) – 38 caps
  4. Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors) – 12 caps
  5. Matt Fagerson (Glasgow Warriors) – 6 caps
  6. George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) – 13 caps
  7. Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors) – 28 caps
  8. Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) – 1 cap

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