Wales wish for England showdown

Italy 9 Wales 26

The chances are that England will arrive in Cardiff on March 16 going for Six Nations title glory and their first Grand Slam since 2003.

But victory for reigning champions Wales over Scotland at Murrayfield a week earlier would ensure they retain hopes of silverware.

As tournament finales go, a Millennium Stadium showdown between Wales and England is pretty much top of the list, and Davies and company are determined not to disappoint.

“We are building, and we’ve got to make sure we keep doing that for the rest of the tournament,” said Scarlets centre Davies, whose second-half try sent Wales on their way to a 26-9 success against Italy in Rome.

“Looking back, if we had started better against Ireland three weeks ago, we would have three wins out of three now. We just want to make sure we are in that fight on the last weekend.”

Reflecting on the win in Rome, Davies said: “It was a bit of an arm-wrestle, and we had to make sure we stayed in it. The forwards were fantastic, they gave us a platform and we just had to make sure we played in the right areas. The work rate off the ball was fantastic and the defence as well, so we can be pretty pleased overall. The ball bounced fortunately for my try, and luckily enough I managed to hold on. I will take it. And ‘Cuthy’ (wing Alex Cuthbert) took his try really well. To get two tries in a game like that, we are very happy.”

Italy were still in the contest at half-time, trailing only 9-6 following two Kristopher Burton penalties to three by Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, but the game then turned quickly. A damaging third quarter for the Azzurri saw Davies score barely a minute after they blew an open goal try opportunity when centre Tommaso Benvenuti could not gather possession in sight of Wales’ line, then captain Martin Castrogiovanni was sin-binned.

Castrogiovanni, stand-in skipper for the suspended Sergio Parisse, collected a yellow card that highlighted overwhelming Welsh scrum dominance, and Cuthbert crossed for the clincher while he was off.

Scorers for Italy: Pens: Burton 3

Scorers for Wales: Tries: J Davies, Cuthbert; Pens: Halfpenny 4; Cons: Halfpenny 2

ITALY: A Masi, G Venditti, T Benvenuti, G. Canale, L McLean, K Burton, E Gori, A Lo Cicero, L Ghiraldini, M Castrogiovanni, A Pavanello, F Minto, A Zanni, S Favaro, M Vosawai.

Replacements: G Garcia for G. Canale (63), T Botes for Gori (65), A De Marchi for Lo Cicero (54), D Giazzon for Ghiraldini (54), L Cittadini for Castrogiovanni (70), Q Geldenhuys for Minto (54), P Derbyshire for Favaro (69).

WALES: L Halfpenny, A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, G North, D Biggar, M Phillips, G Jenkins, R Hibbard, A Jones, A Coombs, I Evans, R. Jones, J Tipuric, T Faletau.

Replacements: S Williams for Roberts (71), J Hook for Biggar (68), L. Williams for Phillips (63), P James for Jenkins (45), K Owens for Hibbard (51), C Mitchell for A Jones (73), A Jones for Coombs (51), S Warburton for R. Jones (68).

Referee: Romain Poite (France).

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