Italy’s Six Nations clash against England in Rome next Saturday has been postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak.
They may have a new head coach in Wayne Pivac, but it was business as usual for Wales under the roof at the Principality Stadium on Saturday.
The defending grand slam champions dominated their opening match against Italy, scoring five tries in their 42-0 victory.
Initially, Wales’ strategy was to take advantage of the penalties conceded by Italy by going for goal, helping them to be 9-0 up after a quarter of an hour.
Once Wales had established themselves, they went for tries. Josh Adams scored a hat trick, with his first being beautifully fed to him by Leigh Halfpenny. There was plenty of space on the wing for Adams to come forth and score an easy try in the corner.
Adams’ second came from a superb low pass from Dan Biggar, which fooled the Italian defence. Biggar was also having a good afternoon, going past 400 points scored from his 80 international caps.
With a 21-0 lead under their belts at half-time, Wales took the foot off the gas slightly at the start of the second half. They were patient, waiting for the Italians to make mistakes, and with Italy conceding over a dozen turnovers, this wasn’t a bad idea at all.
Nick Tompkins had a fantastic debut for Wales, having qualified through his grandmother after finding limited opportunities with England. He scored one try and contributed to another, which was disallowed.
In fact, that disallowed try was only disallowed because Tompkins knocked the ball on off his fingers. He made a wonderful pass to George North at just the right time before North easily made his way to the try line to score what would have been his 40th try for Wales. He was visibly frustrated after the TMO ruined this moment.
There was redemption for North as he scored Wales’ fourth try of the afternoon, still managing to score that 40th international try. He was juggling the pass from Leon Brown but managed to control himself to touchdown and secure the bonus point.
As the clock ran into the red, Italy were scrambling to try and see if they could get something on the board. However, yet another turnover gave Wales their fifth try, scored by who else but Josh Adams. He may have been man of the match, were that not announced before he secured his hat trick. Instead, it went to Justin Tipuric, who made the most tackles, with 21.
Try as they might, Italy were going nowhere. Scrums collapsed, mauls were stagnant and the Welsh defence wouldn’t allow them to spend too much time outside their own half. The fact that the Italians made more metres than the Welsh clearly proves that they did not take advantage of the platforms and opportunities presented to them, no matter how few of them there were.
As Wales get their title defence off to the best possible start, they now set their sights on the next challenge: their match against Ireland in Dublin next Saturday. Meanwhile, Italy’s tournament doesn’t get any easier as they head to the Stade de France for their match against Les Bleus.