March 22, 2018

Warren Gatland: 'Emotional' Wales fullback Liam Williams risked red

12 March 2018, 06:17 | Opal Carroll

Gareth Anscombe makes just a second Test start at fly-half for Wales

Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe

The home side got off to a blistering start through tries from Hadleigh Parkes and George North in the opening seven minutes but Italy responded nearly immediately through Matteo Minozzi.

And popular Scrum V reporter Phil Steele was effusive in his praise of Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes' performance.

Had Wales failed to beat the struggling Azzurri, after successive defeats by England and Ireland, the New Zealander would have faced an uncomfortable few days leading up to Saturday's home finale against a resurgent France, for all he might have learnt some valuable lessons regarding squad depth ahead of next year's World Cup.

North powered over for his second try of the game 14 minutes from time to secure the bonus point. "It's what we wanted".

Gatland confidently predicted at the Six Nations launch that Wales would win the title for the first time since 2013 but, with two rounds to go, they are playing for the consolation prizes after defeats away to England and Ireland in matches that were in the balance in the closing seconds.

Wales' frustrations were illustrated in the 36th minute as Gareth Anscombe opted to point for the posts to make it 17 - 7 when many expected the hosts to seek out tries only.

"We have our destiny in our own hands next week."
Wales' numerical disadvantage had little effect with Hill flying over for his first global try in the 42nd minute. His pass found North, who finished off his 31st Test match touchdown, with Gareth Anscombe adding both conversions. After the frantic opening, some semblance of calm ensued and after Gareth Anscombe kicked a penalty for a 17-7 lead, Williams received a yellow card for unsafe contact on Minozzi on the stroke of halftime.

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"I thought the yellow card was fair".

Things couldn't have gone much better for Warren Gatland - well, bar the two yellow cards and three disallowed tries.

"Whether he gets cited as a result of that ... but I was disappointed in that if he needed to make the tackle did he need to go that high? We know we have got some outstanding quality players who can be brilliant at times, but they sometimes need a cool head around them at times just to calm them down and make sure we make the right decisions".

However, Wales quickly made light of the man-disadvantage as it extended the lead just three minutes into the second half.

Wales won on Sunday despite being reduced to 13 men early in the second half.

Leigh Halfpenny came on at full-back in place of Williams and, after Wales restored to their full complement amid wholesale replacements, North dived across the whitewash from Rhys Patchell's offload with 14 minutes remaining.

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