Autumn Nations Cup: Wales see off spirited Italy to wrap up a 38-18 win
Tries from Kieran Hardy, Sam Parry, Gareth Davies, George North and Justin Tipuric saw Wales secure victory over Italy at Parc y Scarlets; The Azzurri had briefly led in the second half, but could not hold on
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 05/12/20 6:50pm
Wales rounded off their Autumn Nations Cup campaign with a 38-18 win but were made to work for it by a spirited Italy side in Llanelli.
Converted tries from Kieran Hardy and Sam Parry had seen Wales storm into an early lead, but the kicking of Paolo Garbisi and a try from Monty Ioane saw Italy claw the score back to 14-13 at half time.
Johan Mayer then rumbled over out wide to give Franco Smith's men the lead nine minutes after the break, but converted tries from Gareth Davies and George North broke the Italians' resolve before Justin Tipuric put the seal on the win late on.
Wales were dealt a blow prior to kick-off when Johnny Williams was forced to drop out with a calf injury and replaced by Scarlets club-mate Jonathan Davies in a team which head coach Wayne Pivac had already made nine changes to from the defeat to England.
Nevertheless, the hosts survived a bright start from Italy and took the lead in the seventh minute when Toby Faletau, who was a colossus on both sides of the ball for the hosts, set Tipuric streaking away followed by him releasing Hardy to finish his first try at international level.
Hooker Parry then scored his first Wales try 10 minutes later, burrowing over from close range, with Callum Sheedy adding the extras for both scores to put the home side 14 points up.
Fly-half Garbisi's penalty got Italy on the board and the visitors hauled themselves back into the contest in the 34th minute following a scrum when Carlo Canna slid a grubber kick through the defence which winger Ioane chased down to finish for a converted try.
The deficit was down to one point by half-time as a break from Carmarthen-born Stephen Varney led to a penalty which saw Josh Adams sin-binned, with Garbisi slotting over the resulting kick at goal.
Sheedy kicked the hosts further ahead with a penalty early in the second half, but the match was turned on its head in the 49th minute when the Azzuri exploited the extra man on the right as Luca Sperandio set flanker Mayer up to power over in the corner for an unconverted score.
However, Faletau unlocked the Italian defence again to set up Wales' third try nine minutes later, this time releasing replacement scrum-half Davies to sprint clear from around 40 metres out to finish for a converted try.
Then with 12 minutes to go, Wales forced a turnover on halfway and were able to set up a counter-attack which saw replacement Jonah Holmes take the home side to within touching distance before North forced his way over for another score converted by Sheedy.
There was still time for Pivac's men to add some gloss to the final score, with Sheedy feeding No 8 Faletau to send fellow back row Tipuric over for another converted try to take the final margin of victory out to 20 points, leaving Italy winless for the tournament.