Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 1 October 2014

Wales win in Italy

Leigh Halfpenny kept the score ticking over as Wales beat Italy

Wales kept on course for a second successive RBS 6 Nations title with a 26-9 defeat of Italy in Rome.

The visitors shaded a first half played in torrential rain on a treacherous surface 9-6, with a trio of penalties from half-back Leigh Halfpenny. Kristopher Burton replied with two kicks for the Azzurri.

However, the visitors were dominant in the second half, with the highlights being tries from Jonathan Davies and Alex Cuthbert.

The initial exchanges were predictably error-strewn, given testing conditions under foot, but full-back Halfpenny kicked Wales into an eighth-minute lead through an angled penalty before Burton hauled Italy level when the visitors infringed at a scrum.

The slippery surface continued to cause problems, though, underlined when Dan Biggar's poor kick to touch was knocked on by Edoardo Gori and Wales gained a penalty that Halfpenny kicked and he followed that up with another four minutes later.

Wales put themselves under pressure when wing Cuthbert knocked on inside his own 22, but Italy could not take advantage against a well organised defence and they resorted to a drop-goal attempt which Burton fired well wide.

Into the second half and scrum-half Mike Phillips bamboozled the Italian half-backs with a kick over a ruck, giving Davies a chance for a try he did not waste.

Burton reduced the arrears with a 49th-minute penalty but Halfpenny made it 19-9 to the visitors with a long-range penalty of his own.

Wales took control as the game entered the final 20 minutes, when the home team were penalised at the scrum, as Martin Castrogiovanni was sent to the sin-bin.

Cuthbert scampered over for his team's second try two minutes later after Davies created space with a dummy run - and when Halfpenny converted impeccably from out wide, the visitors had a commanding 17-point lead they would not relinquish.

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