Josh Adams scored a hat-trick of tries as Wales started their Six Nations campaign with a commanding 42-0 bonus-point win over Italy in Cardiff on Saturday.
Wales’ new era under Wayne Pivac, coupled with their Six Nations title defence, got off to a stunning start in Cardiff. Wales were bullish and in command from the outset thanks to the platform set by their forwards’ dominance.
Apart from a couple of strong runs and as many entries into the 22, which ended in spurned opportunities, Italy offered nothing to even remotely threaten the Welsh defence.
Wales opened up a nine-point lead through the boot of Dan Biggar, but as they started to exert more pressure that advantage grew to 21, with Adams twice beating his opposite number on the left flank to dot down. His second was brilliantly orchestrated by Biggar who executed a between-the-legs flick pass to his wing in the lead-up.
It was simple.
It was clinical.
It was beautifully finished!
Here’s how Josh Adams scored the opening try of the 2020 #SixNations!
— BBC Sport (@BBCSport) February 1, 2020
The opening 20 minutes of the second half morphed into a dreary, error-riddled contest. Wales seemingly became a little complacent and took their foot off the accelerator. And Italy, for all their earlier struggles, used it to their advantage. The visitors gained the ascendancy at the breakdown, nicking turnover possession seven times. Unfortunately, coach Franco Smith’s charges lacked the clinical precision that Wales seemed to exude in spades.
Wales found their second wind as the match seeped into the final quarter. They picked Italy’s already fragile defence apart to secure the bonus-point victory.
But with the clock in the red, Wales and Adams set about to finish with a flourish. They kept the ball alive close to the line through George North and Nick Tompkins before Adams ran on to the ball at an angle to complete his hat-trick and round up a win that sends a strong statement to Wales’ title challengers.
Wales – Tries: Josh Adams (3), Nick Tompkins, George North. Conversions: Dan Biggar (2), Leigh Halfpenny (2). Penalties: Biggar (3).
Italy – N/A
Wales – 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny McNicholl, 13 George North, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Aaron Wainwright, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones.
Subs: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Cory Hill, 20 Ross Moriarty, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Nick Tompkins.
Italy – 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Carlo Canna, 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Callum Braley, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Jake Polledri, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Niccolò Cannone, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Andrea Lovotti, 2 Luca Bigi (c), 1 Giosuè Zilocchi.
Subs: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Danilo Fischetti, 18 Marco Riccioni, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Giovanni Licata, 22 Guglielmo Palazzani, 23 Jayden Hayward.
Photo: Getty Images