Eight is great as Wales run away from Italy

by AFP

George North made it eight tries in as many Tests against Italy as the powerhouse Wales wing marked his first start of this Six Nations with a try-double in a 38-14 win on Sunday.

The five-try, bonus-point victory at Cardiff's Principality Stadium saw a much-changed Wales go second in the table behind already crowned champions Ireland and another bonus-point success in next week's tournament finale at home to France would assure the Welsh of the runners-up spot. 

A blistering opening that saw three tries scored in the opening 10 minutes left Italy well in the game at just 14-7 behind but from then on it was an all too familiar story as the Azzurri suffered their 16th successive defeat in the Six Nations and 12th in a row in all competitions by Wales.

This was despite Wales being reduced to 13 men at one stage after fullback Liam Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies received yellow cards either side of half-time. 

Wales coach Warren Gatland responded to a loss to Ireland last time out by making 10 changes as he looked to build squad depth ahead of next year's World Cup in Japan.

Taulupe Faletau captained Wales for the first time, with Gatland giving a Test debut to highly-rated Scarlets flanker James Davies. 

"It's what we wanted. To make that many changes and win comfortably was pleasing," Gatland told reporters. 

"We have our destiny in our own hands next week."

This latest loss did nothing to quieten the debate about whether Italy, as opposed to Georgia for example, deserve to be among the leading European countries who annually contest the Six Nations.

But defiant Italy coach Conor O'Shea said: "I am not here for me, I am here for Italian rugby. 

"We deserve our place. We are doing everything that is right for Italian rugby -- we will get there. Full stop."


Wales 38

Tries: Parkes, North 2, Hill, Tipuric 

Conversions: Anscombe 3, Halfpenny 2

Penalty: Anscombe1

Italy 14

Tries: Minozzi, Bellini

Conversions: Allan, Canna