The reasons Wales won their Six Nations match and why it may not be sufficient to defeat France

The reasons Wales won their Six Nations match and why it may not be sufficient to defeat France

Wales managed to avoid a potentially embarrassing loss, securing a 29-17 win against Italy in Rome and avoiding the risk of the Six Nations Wooden Spoon.

Wales were seen as underdogs against Italy, but tries from Rio Dyer, Liam Williams, Taulupe Faletau, and a penalty try were enough for Wales to clinch a win, albeit with some room for improvement.

Wales improved significantly in two key areas that have troubled them throughout the tournament: breakdown and discipline. The team’s ruck speed was much faster than in their previous games, and the clearouts were more accurate. With fewer penalties conceded, Wales was able to gain significant ground and make headway into the Azzurri’s defence.

The selection of Jac Morgan at blindside made a world of difference at the breakdown, with the Ospreys star providing a physical presence that slowed down Italy’s attacking ball.

Wales demonstrated intelligent tactics, including the use of a kicking game, which worked effectively against Italy. The selection of veteran scrum-half Rhys Webb proved justified as he used his tactical acumen and kicked intelligently to torment Italy.

One of his kicks led to a try for Rio Dyer, while another tremendous 50/22 kick put Wales into a prime attacking position. Wales knew that Italy’s adventurous and innovative brand of rugby would work to their advantage, with the visitors able to feed off the home side’s mistakes.

Despite scoring four tries, Wales’ attack still has room for improvement. Alex King’s fourth test match as attack coach hasn’t yet resolved the issue of Wales losing shape after a few phases.

While the team was physically dominant in Rome, they still need to develop more creativity and innovation behind the scrum to compete with the better sides. The young centre partnership of Joe Hawkins and Mason Grady has potential, but they remain a work in progress.

Rhys Webb proved himself as a key player in the squad, with his game management, kicking game, tactical acumen, and sniping around the fringes playing havoc with Italy’s defence. His outstanding performance was critical to Wales’ victory, and he has shown that he remains a top-end international class player.

Webb’s kicking game was on the mark, and his 50 metre break which set up Faletau’s try was a highlight of the game. It’s likely that Webb has cemented his place as Gatland’s first-choice number nine for the World Cup in France.

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