Italy 17-29 Wales: Warren Gatland's visitors clinch morale-boosting bonus-point Six Nations win
Tries by Rio Dyer, Liam Williams, Taulupe Faletau, plus a penalty try, saw Wales secure first Six Nations win of 2023 vs Italy at Stadio Olimpico in Rome; Sebastian Negri, Ignacio Brex scored tries in defeat for the hosts, who lost Lorenzo Cannone and Pierre Bruno to sin-binnings
By Michael Cantillon
Last Updated: 11/03/23 6:47pm
Wales proved too strong for a poor Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, clinching a morale-boosting 29-17 Six Nations victory - their first in the 2023 championship.
Warren Gatland's charges scored tries through wing Rio Dyer, full-back Liam Williams, No 8 Taulupe Faletau, and a penalty try, with fly-half Owen Williams adding seven points with the boot.
Italy 17-29 Wales - Score summary
Italy - Tries: Negri (43), Brex (68). Cons: Allan (44, 68). Pens: Allan (16).
Wales - Tries: Dyer (9), Williams (18), Penalty Try (34), Faletau (50). Cons: Williams (10, 51). Pens: Williams (6).
Italy hit back through Sebastian Negri and Ignacio Brex tries, but having lost No 8 Lorenzo Cannone to a first half sin-binning due to a maul collapse, they lost wing Pierre Bruno to a high handoff in the second.
Kieran Crowley's men were too profligate when attacking - badly missing the spark of the injured Ange Capuozzo - and made far too many errors on the day. As a consequence, it leaves them on the cusp of an eighth Six Nations Wooden Spoon in succession.
- Italy 17-29 Wales: As it happened
- Men's Six Nations: 2023 fixtures and schedule
- Sexton, Ringrose, Furlong return for Ireland's trip to Scotland
- Hogg to earn 100th Scotland cap vs Ireland; Gray, Dempsey brought in
For Italy, Harlequins fly-half Tommy Allan was named to start at full-back with exciting back Ange Capuozzo ruled out through a shoulder injury. Kieran Crowley's side were otherwise unchanged from the team which pushed Six Nations leaders and title favourites Ireland close last time out.
Wales' Warren Gatland made six change to side for Rome; Liam Williams, Rio Dyer, Rhys Webb, Wyn Jones, Dafydd Jenkins, Jac Morgan came in for Leigh Halfpenny, Louis Rees-Zammit, Tomos Williams, Gareth Thomas, Alun Wyn Jones, Christ Tshiunza; Owen Williams was retained at fly-half over Dan Biggar.
Wales were first to settle and hit the front in the sixth minute when fly-half Williams - retained over Dan Biggar for this Test - struck through a simple penalty after the Azzurri defence had been caught offside.
That lead was increased in the ninth minute, when wing Dyer was alert to a cruel bounce as far as Italy were concerned - scrum-half Rhys Webb - in his first Six Nations start for some six years - produced a chip kick into the corner which bounced wickedly away from Italy wing Bruno and into the arms of the chasing Dyer.
Williams converted for a 10-0 advantage, and though a dominant scrum penalty saw Italy get on the board via a Tommaso Allan penalty, Wales were soon over for their second try as full-back Williams sauntered through poor tackling to score after a costly Allan knock-on.
Italy really should really have hit back with their opening try shortly after, but Allan's linebreak into the 22 was not matched with a decent pass, as it forced Stephen Varney to check back before Williams won a breakdown penalty for the visitors.
If that was a good chance, the next Azzurri attack produced a gilt-edged opening, as wonderful play and offloading from deep - started by Paolo Garbisi - saw Brex knock-on as he attempted to ground almost on top of the try-line, with Owen Williams making a vital tackle to cause the spillage.
The Welsh No 10 missed his next attempt at the posts, striking wide, but Wales had a third try with five minutes of the opening half to play as a rolling maul was collapsed by Italy back-row Cannone, leading to a clear penalty try decision.
A flurry of Italian pressure in the Wales 22 saw out the final few minutes of the half, but though the hosts came close, and had one final play still to execute, a Bruno tackle in the air on Liam Williams on advantage saw the decision overturned, and left Wales to kick out to end the half.
Italy started the second half in superb fashion, however, as back-row Negri gathered a clever Allan chip over the Wales defence to dive over and score.
The positive work from Italy was soon undone, however, as Bruno received his yellow card for catching Wyn Jones in the neck with a forearm while carrying - and was almost given a red card by referee Damon Murphy, before an intervention from touch judge Karl Dickson.
Wales took advantage once more, as a superb Webb break was finished by Faletau for the bonus-point score in the 54th minute.
The Test rather lulled to a conclusion thereafter, as Italian frustration built and Wales needed not to push on, with Brex getting over for Italy's second in the only other score.
Gatland: There's growth in these players
Wales head coach Warren Gatland:
"There's still a number of things to work on, but we deserved to win the game.
"The second half wasn't as good as the first. It would be nice to be in the coaching box and think the game wasn't going down to the wire. The boys scrambled well.
"I think a lot of players will learn a lot from today. [Centre] Joe Hawkins carried well and got caught a bit defensively. There's a lot of growth in those players."
Italy head coach Kieran Crowley:
"I probably should not have, but I tried to talk to them [the referees] at half-time.
"I just couldn't believe we didn't get a penalty try. I also can't understand how a team can be penalised 17 times [Wales were penalised 14 times] and not be warned once. It's frustrating.
"Today they [Wales] got a lucky bounce so good on them... It just didn't go our way.
"The execution wasn't good enough and we didn't get any favours with the officiating. We let ourselves down with execution. But there's no way it was a lack of preparation or mental readiness."
Italy conclude their 2023 Six Nations campaign with an away fixture as they face Scotland at Murrayfield in Edinburgh next Saturday March 18 (12.30pm kick-off GMT).
Italy's Six Nations 2023 fixtures
|Sunday, February 5||Italy 24-29 France|
|Sunday, February 12||England 31-14 Italy|
|Saturday, February 25||Italy 20-34 Ireland|
|Saturday, March 11||Italy 17-29 Wales|
|Saturday, March 18||Scotland vs Italy||12.30pm|
Wales conclude their hugely disappointing Six Nations with a trip to Paris to face France at the Stade de France next Saturday March 18 (2.45pm kick-off GMT).
Wales' Six Nations 2023 fixtures
|Saturday, February 4||Wales 10-34 Ireland|
|Saturday, February 11||Scotland 35-7 Wales|
|Saturday, February 25||Wales 10-20 England|
|Saturday, March 11||Italy 17-29 Wales|
|Saturday, March 18||France vs Wales||2.45pm|