British & Irish Lions 2021

3 things learned from Wales v Italy Six Nations clash

2020-02-02 13:54
Wayne Pivac
Wayne Pivac (Getty Images)

Cardiff - Wales launched the defence of their Six Nations title with a 42-0 thrashing of Italy in Cardiff on Saturday that saw new coach Wayne Pivac win his first Test in charge.

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A sterner challenge awaits Pivac, who has succeeded fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland, when he takes the reigning Grand Slam champions to Dublin to face Ireland, who just got past Scotland 19-12 in their opening encounter of this season's Championship, next weekend.

Although this latest reverse extended Italy's woeful run in the Six Nations to 23 successive defeats, a losing streak dating back to 2015, all was not doom and gloom for the Azzurri ahead of another tough away trip to France under new interim coach Franco Smith.

Below we look at three things we learned from Saturday's match beneath the closed roof of the Principality Stadium:

Adams knows how to finish

Carrying on from where you left off at a successful World Cup is not as easy as it sounds but Josh Adams, the leading try-scorer at Japan 2019, did just that with his hat-trick on Saturday meaning the wing has now scored 10 tries in his last eight Tests.

Not since Maurice Richards ran in four tries against England back in 1969 has a Wales player scored three or more tries in a home Five or Six Nations match.

Even allowing for the fact that Adams' treble was 'only' against Italy there was much to admire, with Wales great Barry John writing in Wales on Sunday that the Cardiff Blues flyer "possesses the priceless ability to convert tries when in very tight spaces near the line".

Mixed fortunes up front

Wales' Aaron Wainwright, who enjoyed something of a breakout tournament at the World Cup, again showed the value of his pace and ball-winning ability that helped create the first two tries while fellow flanker Justin Tipuric was named man-of-the-match for a fine all-round display.

But there is work to do in the scrum for new forwards coach Jonathan Humphreys after Wales conceded three penalties at the set-piece, something that could lead to a call-up for tight-head prop WillGriff John in Paris.

Polledri a plus for Italy

'Taking the positives' from a 42-0 loss can seem like a refusal to confront reality but Gloucester loose forward Jake Polledri made some good ground on the flank, while tight-head props Giosue Zilocchi and Marco Riccioni had an impact as well.

Nevertheless, this result was not the way Italy would have wanted to mark the 20th anniversary of their entry into the Six Nations.

With the likes of Georgia knocking on the door, this latest lopsided result will only fuel the debate about whether the Six Nations needs to introduce promotion and relegation rather than remain a closed shop.

But there was some hope for Italy's future in the way their Under-20s beat their Welsh counterparts 17-7 in Colwyn Bay on Friday.

Read more on:    uruguay  |  wales  |  six nations  |  wayne pivac  |  rugby


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