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Wales trample Italy in Rome opener

Liam Williams, of Wales, tackled by Italy’s Giorgio Bronzini at the Olympic Stadium.

Liam Williams, of Wales, tackled by Italy’s Giorgio Bronzini at the Olympic Stadium.

Wales staged a strong second-half recovery to begin their RBS 6 Nations campaign in winning fashion against Italy in Rome.

But they will need a considerable improvement to threaten next Saturday’s opponents England after Wales triumphed 33-7 following tries during the final quarter from centre Jonathan Davies, plus wings Liam Williams and George North as they posted 30 unanswered points in the second period.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked 18 points as Wales reeled off an 11th successive victory over the Azzurri, who struck first with an Edoardo Gori try that fly-half Carlo Canna converted.

But while the final scoreline was convincing, Wales trailed 7-3 at the break as Italy sensed another memorable day under new coaching chief Conor O’Shea less than three months after claiming an historic triumph against South Africa.

Ultimately, the home side were undone by a combination of poor technical discipline – they repeatedly fell on the wrong side of referee J.P. Doyle – and Wales belatedly finding some form as they made it four wins on the bounce under interim head coach Rob Howley.

Six Nations title holders England, though, will be an altogether tougher threat when Wales look to inflict a first defeat on their fiercest sporting rivals during Australian Eddie Jones’s coaching reign.

Forecast rain arrived an hour before the start in Rome, with Wales fielding 10 of the team that accounted for South Africa last time out, including a first Six Nations start for Gloucester back-row forward Ross Moriarty and scrum-half Rhys Webb making his Test match return following injury.

Italy, meanwhile, included 13 players from Zebre and Treviso as they looked to end a long run of defeats against Wales and claim just a 13th Six Nations victory in 86 starts.

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