After Connor O’Shea took charge of Italy, they have been a different side. In the autumn, they defeated South Africa however a week later they lost to Tonga. Wales were in search of a bonus point victory but straight from the start, that looked like it would be a tough ask. Leigh Halfpenny hooked an early penalty and suddenly the Azzuris were on the attack. Scrum-half Eduardo Gori supplied many passes edging the Italians closer until eventually he dummied and burrowed under a few Welsh bodies and (helped by his teammates) scored. After Carlo Canna’s conversion, Wales realised they had to draw themselves back into it.
They only managed to salvage a penalty through boot of Halfpenny before halftime but his reliable kicking pulled back the lead and from nothing they were 7-12 up.
Rhys Webb sparked an attack for the Welsh with a wonderful out the back pass which gave Alun Wyn-Jones and Justin Tipuric some space. Ken Owen bustled closer toward the line and Webb sniped. He reached out and referee JP Doyle was caught in two minds. He called for the TMO who ruled Webb had placed the ball just short of the line.
After their half time break, the men in red were up for the game and realised they had a job on their hand if they were to snatch the bonus point. The try scoring streak they needed was ignited by Jonathan Davies when Scott Williams’ show and go opened up enough space outwide for the Scarlets centre to dash in from close range. Halfpenny banged over the conversion and Wales were pulling away.
Italy were starting to tire and gaps were starting to show in defence. Some slick handling from the Welsh opened up so much space which consequently resulted in an easy run in for Saracens bound wing Liam Williams. Halfpenny nailed the kick and was already running back to the halfway line as the clock ticked.
Wales were beggining to play with some urgency and the Azzuri could not keep up. Every phase Wales were making metres and as they went down the blind side, Davies deftly offloaded out wide to Liam Williams who had the simple job of finishing in the corner. Halfpenny converted.
It all seemed too little too late for Wales but when Giovanbattista Venditti threw a waywards pass Sam Davies, who was on for injured Dan Biggar, scooped the ball up. He passed the ball to George North who turned on the afterburners. Hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini could not touch the Welsh flyer and Luke Mclean was left dumbfounded when he changed the direction of play and sped in from nearly 70 metres; what a try!
Wales had one last bite at the cherry and Liam Williams picked up another loose Italian pass he stretched out but much to the dissapointment of all Welsh fans, he spilled the ball just over the line. Doyle blew up for full time and Wales were not quite satisfied; Italy still have a lot to work on.