Italy 7-33 Wales: Welsh rally for Six Nations win in Rome
By Tony Tighe
Last Updated: 06/02/17 12:11am
Wales overturned a half-time deficit to defeat Italy 33-7 in Rome but they fell narrowly short of a bonus-point victory.
Edoardo Gori's 29th-minute try gave Italy a 7-3 advantage at the interval but three Leigh Halfpenny penalties in 10 second-half minutes put Wales in front for the first time.
Italy prop Andrea Lovotti was sent to the sin bin on the hour mark and Wales capitalised with tries from Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams.
George North broke clear for a superb try with two minutes left and Liam Williams went agonisingly close to scoring a fourth from the final play, the wing losing control as he attempted to ground the ball on the line.
A tiring Italy lost their discipline in the second half and Wales smelt blood when Lovotti was yellow-carded. They scored two tries while the prop was in the bin.
Moment of the match
Just minutes after appearing to pull up when chasing a kick, North showed no signs of injury when he took Sam Davies' pass and galloped down the wing for a brilliant breakaway try.
North's touchdown means he joins Shane Williams as the only Welshmen to score tries in five successive Six Nations matches.
Former skipper Sam Warburton was fantastic in both attack and defence, and his performance was typified by a fantastic lineout steal on the Wales 22 during the second half. Sam Davies also impressed when introduced, jinking between three Italian defenders before releasing North for his try.
Sergio Parisse was again heroic in defeat for the Azzurri, showing soft hands to set up Gori's try, carrying with gusto and controlling matters at the base of the scrum.
Wales will be sweating on the fitness of Dan Biggar after he was forced off at half-time with what appeared to be a rib injury.
The Welsh and Italians both lived up to their stereotypes, the former slow out of the blocks as they failed to turn possession and territory into points during the first half, and the latter tiring in the final half-hour.
Italy's discipline also requires major improvement ahead of Saturday's clash with Ireland.
Man of the match
Stat of the match
25: The number of tackles made by Italy openside Maxime Mata M'Banda. Ross Moriarty led the way for the visitors with 13.
Italy head coach Conor O'Shea: "We have to make sure we change the perception of people who look at us, so we are refereed on a level playing field. The energy that is driven away and towards an opposition is huge when it is 16-5 (penalty count).
"We have a huge, huge challenge. I want to make sure we are looked on the same as others, and then we will be fine."
Wales head coach Rob Howley: "We want to improve in all areas. We use the word relentless, with and without the ball, and there were aspects of our game today when we weren't relentless with the ball.
"We will have to put England under more pressure than we did against Italy, so that is going to be the challenge."