Cheika sums up How Pivac and Wales will be treating this match: “This game will give them a chance to get their defensive system right with a new coach. When the bigger attacking threats come later in the tournament, they’ll be up for it. ”
An email arrives from John Rogers:
Here we are with another
Well said, John.
(min: Italy finish the half on the front foot, with three runners chasing down Leigh Halfpenny in the Welsh left-hand corner. Halfpenny does well, but Wales then cough up a penalty for hands on the floor – and Italy kick for touch. Can they establish a foothold right at the end of the half?
Updated at am EST
min: Faletau fights his way through a couple of tackles near the Italian line. But Allan wins a penalty after intercepting a Tomos Williams pass – and then effects an excellent clearing kick.
Updated (at 9.) am EST
min: Nearly try No 3 for Wales! A charge-down bounces up invitingly for scrum-half Tomos Williams in the Italian but he can ‘ t quite gather it – and Italy winger Leonardo Sarto does well to grab the ball and clear the danger.
Now there’s a huge cheer for a bloke called Sam Warburton, who has run on with some water bottles. He is the breakdown coach, of course, and a bit of a legend in these parts.
Updated at 9. am EST
“Pivac-ball looking good so far. I did not have high hopes for this campaign, and yes, I know it’s ‘only’ Italy, but I’m encouraged by how fluent and together Wales have looked. ”
Yes, this is pretty much a 26 / display from Wales so far, and like Cheika said, it’s hardly as if Italy are a shambles. Wales have looked for space and punished the opposition clinically when they’ve found it. It’s reminiscent of that Georgia game in the Rugby World Cup when everything Wales tried in attack seemed to come off. Although they lost the plot in the second half that day …
Updated at 9. am EST
Cheika on commentary: “It’s not like Italy have played poorly … especially in attack, they’ve put some nice moves together. But they’ve left a few spaces at the back and they’ve been punished. ”
Too true. Italy have been decent, but they are being overwhelmed by a better team.
Super kick by scrum-half Williams into the corner with the full-back Minozzi missing, trapped at the bottom of a ruck. The ball bounces slowly, and perfectly finds touch, right in the corner. The crowd – who seem a touch quiet in general – roar their approval. Italy sensibly take it quickly though and successfully manage to clear the danger. Italy have shown some intelligence and skill in the way they’ve played their rugby so far – but Wales are still comfortably outclassing them.
min: A tidy line-out by Wales near halfway, and they spin the ball right, right across the field to the far side of the pitch as the camera looks at it. North then tries an elaborate off-load to his right-winger but it’s spoiled by an Italian hand.
More than halfway through the first half and Wales are cruising … but a good scrum from Italy brings a penalty, which they waste by booting it straight back and into Welsh hands. Minozzi then makes another break in midfield after Wales, too, kick the ball back and keep it in play.
min: Brilliant up-and-under by Halfpenny, who surges upfield and claims his own kick in determined fashion. Attacking scrum for Wales now – but they give up a free-kick to Italy for an early engagement. Meanwhile McNicholl is back on after that HIA.
Updated (at 9.) (am EST
Josh Adams is over in the corner for Wales! TMO check just to make sure he’s not in touch … but that’s a try all day. The space opened up for Adam – who was lethal at the World Cup, of course – and Minozzi fails in trying to push the winger over the line. Class finish.
“This was a little bit too easy,” observes Cheika on commentary. Biggar misses the kick from out on the touchline and it’s -0. Italy did seem a bit mixed up in defense there – they are in for a busy afternoon. Wayne Pivac watches intently from up in the stands – he looks pretty happy with how this is going so far.