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Rugby - 03. February 2020.

ITALY HOLD ON TO SEAL VICTORY OVER WALES IN OPENER

Italy weathered a late Wales fightback as they claimed a 19-15 victory in their Six Nations opener at Cardiff Arms Park.

The Italian’s twice saw tries ruled out by the TMO and were at times their own worst enemy as they squandered a host of scoring chances.

Their overall display would be rewarded though, and Wales were unable to force the issue as they looked the turn the game around late on.

Despite Wales enjoying 80 per cent of the possession in the opening five minutes and taking a 3-0 lead through an early penalty, it was Italy who always looked more threatening in attack.

A smart kick behind the Wales defence looked certain to end in an Italy try inside a quarter of an hour, but Jasmine Joyce covered superbly to mop up on her try line.

The hosts were fortunate not to go behind after 24 minutes when Italy, who finished second in last year’s Championship, put a succession of phases together and Melissa Bettoni touched down.

Wales were ultimately spared by the TMO, however, as an Italian player was adjudged to have blocked off a Welsh tackler in the build up to the score.

Italy were again left wondering how they were trailing seven minutes before the break as a smart passing move sent Maria Magatti away on the wing.

She looked certain to score but Hannah Jones got across superbly to hold up the Italian winger and preserve Wales’ narrow lead.

That advantage would last a matter of moments as Bettoni crashed over to give Italy a 5-3 lead.

The score seemed to spark Wales into life and they finally made inroads into the Italy 22 at the end of the half as Jones burst through three tackles to score in the corner.

Robyn Wilkins added the extras with a fine conversion to ensure Wales, largely against the run of play, led 10-5 at half-time.



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