Live rugby in the Autumn Nations Cup as Wales play Italy today on the final weekend of the competition in Llanelli
Wales ended a difficult autumn campaign with a win over Italy that wasn’t quite as pleasant as the final record suggested.
While they had 38 to 18 winners, they stared at an unwanted shock midway through the second half before a strong finish ensured victory.
Wales started 2020 with a 42-0 win against the Italians in Cardiff. It looked like they could do that again early on, and Kieran Hardy early passed over the stellar work of Taulupe Faletau and Justin Tipuric.
Shortly afterwards they passed again. Sam Parry’s hand-to-hand combat gave Wales a 14-0 lead after just 18 minutes.
That was as good as the first half, however, when Italy got back on track thanks to poor discipline from Wales and an attempt by Marco Zanon.
A yellow card for Josh Adams just before half-time aggravated the first half, in which Wales had thrown away a promising start.
The second half threatened to deteriorate as Johan Meyer’s attempt put Italy in the lead and a first win against a six-nation team since 2015 was in sight.
Wales ended the second half as they did at the beginning of the first half. Gareth Davies, George North and Justin Tipuric ensured that Wales ended a tough year in victory.
Wayne Pivac will be in the media shortly and you can watch his press conference below.
There is a little more pace in their game again as North hits a hard line in front of Sheedy.
Sheedy then pulls a nice pass through some defenders to Faletau and puts Tipuric in the corner.
Sheedy is in a similar position a moment later, but it comes in judo-style contact from Meyer.
With all the confusion there, it’s worth noting that it was Elliot Dee who had to replace Alun Wyn Jones who got the sales that led to the trial.
North continues his goal against Italy. The Welsh players around this pile seemed to be enjoying this one – with some of the Italians being particularly verbal throughout the game.
Wales was still camping in Italian 22, however, just so North could spill it if he hit a hard line.
Gareth Davies discovers a loophole to move Wales forward, but Jonah Holmes moves on to the next phase.
After the cough comes a little kick tennis and Wales gets the penalty halfway through.
Italy take offense and a couple of strikers give the young winger a push.
I was just about to type that Wales has run out of ideas, but then Tipuric and Faletau combine!
Instead, it’s Italy that gets the crush when Sheedy makes contact only for Wyn Jones to fumble it forward.
Given that Faletau caught it before Jones, this was likely a punishment for Italy rather than just a nudge.
Some changes in the pack, with Wyn Jones and Cory Hill replacing Smith and Rowlands.
Wales need this kick-off, but it’s quickly gone as Faletau’s pass for Alun Wyn Jones goes forward.
A decent carry from Faletau gives them a chance before Sheedy North finds with a flat ball.
A roadside penalty is contrary to last quarter’s trend, however, and Maxime Mbanda is punished.
Seems to be a problem with his arm – possibly a sting after attacking Ioane earlier.
The tiny Italian full-back gives both of them a boost, but given his stature, neither of them takes his threat seriously.
In this first quarter, Wales was full of confidence – it played with pace, dumps and tip passes.
Over the course of the half, however, the fighting has accumulated – with the lineout and breakdown causing them problems.
Josh Adams comes back to stop him, but grabs the jackal without releasing him as a tackler.
Wales, Italy National Rugby Team, Wayne Pivac
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