|Italy: (7) 15|
|Tries: Steyn, Padovani Pens: Allan Cons: Allan|
|Wales: (12) 26|
|Tries: Adams, Watkin Pens: Biggar 4 Cons: Biggar, Anscombe|
A much-changed Wales side equalled their record run of 11 successive Test wins with an unconvincing victory over Italy in Rome.
Warren Gatland made 10 changes from the team that beat France and tries from Josh Adams and Owen Watkin and 14 points from Dan Biggar sealed victory.
Italy responded with tries through Braam Steyn and Edoardo Padovani.
Wales will break their record set in 1910 if they beat England in Cardiff on 23 February.
Not many of the new Wales inclusions in this experimental side made compelling cases to start against Eddie Jones’ side in two weeks, although Wasps flanker Thomas Young impressed on his Six Nations debut.
Italy have now lost a record 19 matches in this tournament with the last victory coming against Scotland in February 2015 and their last home win against Ireland six years ago.
Former England scrum-half Matt Dawson had described Wales’ alterations as dangerous and risky despite the opposition.
Gatland made the same amount of changes last year when Wales defeated Italy 38-14 in March to start the winning run.
Centre Jonathan Davies captained Wales for the first time while flankers Young and Aaron Wainwright, wing Jonah Holmes and scrum-half Aled Davies all made their first Six Nations starts.
Josh Navidi was named man of the match after moving to number eight with Ross Moriarty dropping to the bench, alongside usual captain Alun Wyn Jones.
Italy frustrate Wales in scrappy first half
Italy made a terrible start when hooker Elliot Dee forced a turnover penalty and Biggar opened the scoring after 62 seconds.
The hosts responded with a break from wing Angelo Esposito which Wales eventually repelled.
Wales were dominant in the early scrums with Biggar slotting over a simple penalty from one set-piece transgression.
The visitors enjoyed superior possession and territory and ground down Italy with Biggar slotting over a third penalty.
A brilliant Biggar high-ball catch launched another attack but when Wales were denied by the scrambling home defence had to be content with the fly-half slotting over his fourth penalty.
For all Wales’ pressure, Italy scored the first try after capitalising on a poor sliced Adams kick. The decision to turn down a kick at goal and instead to opt for an attacking line-out was justified when Steyn eventually burrowed over.
Tommaso Allan converted before his penalty hit the post to ensure Wales led 12-7 at the interval.
Wyn Jones comes on to lift Wales’ performance
Italy’s driving line-out was proving their most effective weapon while Wales’ discipline let then down at the start of the second half with Allan slotting over a penalty.
Wales’ attack was ponderous and Gatland responded by sending on squad skipper Alun Wyn Jones and Dillon Lewis after 50 minutes.
Biggar was guilty of two poor kicks in the space of a couple of minutes as Wales failed to gather any momentum.
The mediocrity finally lifted when scrum-half Aled Davies launched a break from a scrum down the right hand side.
When the ball was switched left, full-back Liam Williams sliced through the Italian defence to set-up the try for Adams in one of the only cutting line breaks Wales produced.
Biggar converted which proved to be his final action after he was replaced by Gareth Anscombe.
Centre Davies thought he had scored Wales’ second try after following up his own chip kick but he fumbled the ball in the act of scoring.
That second score came when centre Watkin dived onto a clever chipped Anscombe kick to score the visitors’ second try.
Italy responded with an incisive Allan break to set up Padovani to score before Young was denied a deserved try with the final move of the match because of an earlier forward pass.
That summed up Wales’ day as another chance went astray because of poor execution.
A record equalling win it might have been but Wales will know they require a much improved performance if they are to beat England and become history makers in two weeks.
Defeat England on that day at the Principality Stadium and this Rome trip will soon be forgotten.
Man of the match – Josh Navidi
Italy: Hayward, Padovani, Campagnaro, Morisi, Esposito, Allan, Palazzani, Quaglio, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Sisi, Budd, Negri, Steyn, Parisse.
Replacements: McKinley for Allan (48), Gori for Palazzani (60), Traore for Quaglio (51), Bigi for Ghiraldini (60), Pasquali for Ferrari (60), Ruzza for Budd (52), Barbini for Negri (57).
Not Used: Benvenuti.
Wales: L. Williams, Holmes, J. Davies, Watkin, Adams, Biggar, A. Davies, Smith, Dee, Lee, Ball, Beard, Wainwright, Young, Navidi.
Replacements: Amos for L. Williams (67), Anscombe for Biggar (55), G. Davies for A. Davies (63), W. Jones for Smith (63), Elias for Dee (67), Lewis for Lee (51), A. Jones for Ball (51), Moriarty for Navidi (67).
Ref: Mathieu Raynal (France).
Credits: “BBC News”