Italy 9 Wales 26
WALES won their fourth championship away game in a row for the first time since 1979 with a convincing and impressive win in Rome.
It wasn’t a great spectacle but an undoubtedly important triumph as they also recorded their second biggest victory in the Italian capital.
It took two second half tries to take the visitors clear after a tense opening 40 minutes saw them lead just 9-6.
Wales dominated the scrum, usually an Italian forte, tighthead prop Adam Jones answering his critics in the best possible way.
The heavy rain dominated proceedings on a wet afternoon in the Eternal City and it marred the contest as an exhibition.
The first half at the Stadio Olimpico, home to Serie A giants Lazio and Roma, was dominated by kicking in the first half as Wales full back Leigh Halfpenny and home fly half Kristopher Burton traded penalties.
Halfpenny got three as he helped Wales build a 9-3 lead in the first quarter as they turned their advantage in the scrum to good use.
Cuthbert was nearly away for a likely try after great work by No 10 Dan Biggar, taking a high ball and passing inside, but centre Gonzalo Canale just managed to bring down the wing with a desperate lunge.
Italy should have scored from the second half re-start when centre Giovambattista Benvenuti fumbled as he was tackled early by Wales’ outside half.
It was a defining moment in many ways for had he crossed the try-line, Wales might have been in serious trouble.
And the excellent Biggar played a big hand in securing the win when his up and under caused a defensive calamity in the hosts’ ranks.
Scrum half by Edoardo Gori and Burton failed to deal with it, the bouncing ball gathered by centre Jonathan Davies with his first touch of the game.
He picked the ball up and strolled over for a 44th minute try, the superb Halfpenny made no mistake with the conversion to give Wales a 16-6 lead.
Burton pulled back three points with a penalty before another sublime effort from 50 metres by the Wales full back gave them a ten-point cushion again.
Italy’s captain, Leicester tighthead prop Martin Castrogiovanni was sin binned with a quarter of the match to go, penalised again in the scrum as Wales continued tamed the home eight.
The visitors made the Azzurri pay almost immediately when Cuthbert crossed for a well-worked try when he was put through a big gap by a lovely Biggar pass.
The monumental Halfpenny, again sublime, who ended up with 16 points, converted from the touchline to give Wales a commanding lead.
The game died a bit of a death late on but Wales will be pleased with a very satisfying afternoon’s work as they continue to mount a defence of their Six Nations title.
Italy scorers – Penalties – Kristopher Burton (3)
Wales scorers – Tries – Jonathan Davies, Alex Cuthbert, Penalties – Leigh Halfpenny (4), Conversions – Halfpenny (2)
Referee: Romain Poite (France)
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