Jamie Roberts scored the first try of the match after 49 minutes, while most were thinking Wales would be comfortably ahead at that point against a rugged but unimaginative Italian side. Nonetheless, Warren Gatland’s lads took another big step towards securing the Grand Slam, beating Italy 24-3, making it four for four in their 2012 Six Nations campaign.
What can you say about Italy? Nothing eve changes except for the head coaches. Nick Mallet did bring something different to the table, which resulted in their first win over France last year. This year? Regression, like we saw during the World Cup in New Zealand. A lot of heart and huge tackling. One wonderful Sergio Parisse, a man with the heart of a lion. But they have no notion of what to with the ball, no attempt of some creative play, and they hardly had any field position to even get penalties in their favor.
For Wales, it was a frustrating start, with the Italians slowing things down. George North saw most of the focus from the Italian coverage which was very disciplined and fast to react during the first half. Leigh Halfpenny, Alex Cuthbert and Rhys Priestland saw most of the ball and most of the action, although the ball movement wasn’t fast enough to break through the gaps.
Halfpenny’s kicking put Wales 9-3 in front at half time, an uncomfortable lead. There were a few scary moments until Roberts’ try, his first in the tournament, but Italy made the wrong decision every time an opportunity presented itself. Eventually, they were too worn out to actually fight back and pose any serious threat.
Alex Cuthbert, the more industrious of the flankers on the day, got his second try of the tournament, just barely, as the match was winding down. Wales were mighty close, especially through Halfpenny’s breaks and runs, to finish with a much more impressive result.
And now it’s on to France. Wales seems like the most talented side right now in the Northern Hemisphere, but you never know with the French. A moody team, who play lovely Rugby on some minutes while showing laziness and lack of thought quickly after. Their Ireland match, another example for bi-polar behavior on a Rugby team, ended in a rare draw at Paris.
Wales do host the next match. They haven’t beaten France since 2008, and were barely beaten by the French in the Rugby World Cup Semi Final, a match many felt they should have won. Awful kicking from James Hook made all the difference six months ago. Sam Warburton getting sent off was another reason that Morgan Parra kicking was all France needed to make it through.