Doing just enough: Alex Cuthbert scored, as did Scott Williams, but they were matched on two tries by Italy

Doing just enough: Alex Cuthbert scored, as did Scott Williams, but they were matched on two tries by Italy

By Alan Dymock at the Millennium Stadium

The match in 30 seconds

Wales haven’t won at home in a Six Nations opener since 2005, and they almost undid themselves against a frantic Italy, but had just enough to see them off at 23-15.

A fine line from Jamie Roberts led to a bursting break and a try for Scott Williams, which looked to be a defining moment before Italy got their own score as Michele Campagnaro dribbled his way to a try early in the second half and then pulses were sent racing as the same player intercepted a wayward Leigh Halfpenny pass to scuttle in for another later on. The game had started with an Alex Cuthbert try from calamitous defending which meant he could tootle onto a missed grubber to score and Wales had a lot of squandered possession, but in the end it was Leigh Halfpenny’s boot that ensured the Millennium Stadium was just happy enough, after he slotted five kicks.

Wales – Tries: Cuthbert, S Williams. Cons: Halfpenny 2. Pens: Halfpenny 3.

Italy – Tries: Campagnaro 2. Cons: Allan Pens: Allan

Post-match bulletin

–       On his Six Nation debut, Campagnaro scored twice, ran for 98m and won the Man of the Match.

–       Italy played the most-capped pack of all time, but succumbed to Wales, losing three of their own scrums and their front-row were penalised five times. They also had a 57% success rate at their own scrum.

–      However, Warren Gatland said: “I thought the scrum was iffy,” for Wales as well. He also said: “We know we get stronger as the tournament goes on.”

–       Jamie Roberts mentioned Wales kicked away too much ball in the game immediately after the match, with them kicking ball away 37 times throughout the game.

–       Wales beat 16 defenders and made six clean breaks, but only scored twice.

–       Sergio Parisse carried 21 times – more than any other player.

–       Alessandro Zanni broke his nose, Ghiraldini damaged his hamstring and Luke Charteris has a tight hamstring and Cuthbert has a tight groin. Ghiraldini is the only serious doubt.

What’s next?

–       Wales will not have scared anyone with this performance and need to have more of a cutting edge against Ireland. The few good lines they cut saw them beyond Italy. Drifting across the pitch helps no one.

–       When Wales kick well they have chasers who can scare anyone. But they need to stop finding the other team’s full-back with their clearances.

–       Italy have to keep going and hope that Tomasso Allan has the ability to grow and manage a game. They hung in there until the end against Wales but need to dictate the game pace in order to win.

–      Gatland said of the upcoming Ireland game: “I’d be pretty pissed off if next week is built up as a grudge match. We’ve moved on. Brian (O’Driscoll) has moved on. It’s two countries coming together, 46 players.”

RW’s proposed Wales XV to play Ireland:

Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Scott Williams, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Mike Phillips; Paul James, Richard Hibbard, Andrew Coombs, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Taulupe Faletau.

This team needs to stick together and out-work Ireland. Roberts stays, but only as Jonathan Davies shouldn’t be flung into action right away after returning from injury. Warburton and Coombs will add a bit more heft at the breakdown.

RW’s proposed Italy XV to play France: 

Luke McLean; Angelo Esposito, Michele Campagnaro, Alberto Sgarbi, Leonardo Sarto; Tommaso Allan, Edoardo Gori; Lorenzo Cittadini, Davide Giazzon, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Marco Bortolami, Alessandro Zanni, Josh Furno, Sergio Parisse.

Looks like an almost identical team – with as many injuries as Italy have there’s not much choice – but Cittadini comes in because of his experience and Furno is named becase he offers more oomph than a noticeably slowed Mauro Bergamasco. They’ll need to slug away for 80 minutes to beat France.