Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Sport | By Gary Shelton

Wales beats Italy 38-14 to go 2nd in Six Nations

Wales beats Italy 38-14 to go 2nd in Six Nations

The home side got off to a blistering start through tries from Hadleigh Parkes and George North in the opening seven minutes but Italy responded nearly immediately through Matteo Minozzi.

Parkes, who was earlier denied a second try by the TMO, flung a terrific pass wide on Wales' next serious attack and found replacement flanker Justin Tipuric on the run into the corner.

Wales' frustrations were illustrated in the 36th minute as Gareth Anscombe opted to point for the posts to make it 17 - 7 when many expected the hosts to seek out tries only.

When Williams' 10 minutes on the sidelines was up, Gatland kept him off the field and sent first-choice fullback Leigh Halfpenny from the bench to finish the game instead.

Former Ireland coach Gatland added: "At times we looked absolutely outstanding and great, and at other times we lacked cohesion". If you cannot have a stocktake against a side that have lost their last 15 matches in the Six Nations, when can you?

"We have our destiny in our own hands next week."

Liam Williams saw yellow for a unsafe tackle on his opposite number Matteo Minozzi at the end of the first half and did not return to the field, Gatland sending on Leigh Halfpenny when the sin-bin period was up.

"Whether he gets cited as a result of that ... but I was disappointed in that if he needed to make the tackle did he need to go that high?"

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Wales was momentarily reduced to 13 men as Gareth Davies joined Williams in the sin bin after an intentional knock-on, but defended stoutly to maintain its lead and took advantage once it was back to full strength.

"We have good players but they sometimes need a cool head around them to keep them calm at times".

Gatland said replacing Williams "was about sending a subtle message really".

North has racked up six tries in seven games against Italy, and it would be no surprise if that sequence continues tomorrow.

Italy will equal that unwanted record if they are beaten by Scotland in Rome on Saturday.

Second row Hill went over from close range to get his first worldwide try, before Anscombe maintained his flawless kicking display to make it 24-7.

No captain has ever been more justified in instructing his men, "do as I do, not as I say", because if Wales play as boldly as Taulupe Faletau no doubt will at the Principality Stadium on Sunday, they will have no problems whatsoever in recording a 12 successive victory over Italy. "He knows if he isn't comfortable in that environment, we will support him and the union (Welsh Rugby Union) will support him 100 per cent for whatever happens with him".

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