Simple Assignment In Rome For Wales
Italy v Wales
Wales need at least twenty-five points on England and probably more when they face Italy on Saturday; can it be done?
Playing well without having anything little to show for it was the story of Italy’s 2014, and this year’s 6 Nations campaign has been a similar story. They were brave against Ireland and enterprising against England, but got nothing for it. A last-minute penalty try earned them a deserved win at Murrayfield, but normal service was resumed last week as they suffered injuries to two fly-halves and were out-kicked in a torrential downpour against France.
Wales began their attempt to regain the 6 Nations title in dreadful fashion, losing to an injury depleted England side, but have improved steadily since then. Their victory in Edinburgh was workmanlike, but they were more impressive in picking up a win in Paris and they followed that up with their best effort yet, mixing adventurous wide play with stirring defence to end Ireland’s winning run and give themselves a chance of lifting the trophy.
Italy suffered injuries to both first choice fly-halves on Sunday and both Kelly Haimona and Tommaso Allan are doubtful for this weekend, along with prop Matias Aguero. There is better news on captain Sergio Parisse, who took to Twitter to suggest that the suspected ligament damage that forced him off against France is less serious than feared.
Wales have enjoyed good fortune with injuries this tournament, but their exertions against Ireland on Saturday have taken their toll and they’ve lost a couple of key forwards ahead of this weekend in props Samson Lee and Gethin Jenkins. They will be replaced by Aaron Jarvis and Rob Evans, while Scarlets scrum-half Gareth Davies comes in for Mike Phillips.
Italy’s overall record against Wales is poor. They’ve taken on the men in red twenty-one times since 1994, and have managed just two wins and a draw.
Wales have won the last seven meetings, including last year’s fixture at the Millennium Stadium, although that turned out to be a nervy affair as the Italians fought back from a 17-3 half time deficit to score two second-half tries and give Wales a scare, though the home side eventually prevailed 23-15.
Italy have a better record in Rome, where they have recorded both of their victories over Wales: in 2007 and 2003, although they were well beaten there two years ago when the visitors restricted them to just three penalties and won 26-9.
Of the three teams locked on six points at the top of the table, Wales have been given the easier final day assignment, but they need to make up at least twenty-five points on England and probably more.
That could prove tough against an Italian side that can play without fear, and who will be anxious to redeem themselves in front of their home crowd after last weekend’s performance. Wales will win, but not by enough. Back Italy +21 in the Match Handicap market at 10/11.