Wales vs. Italy: Six Nations Final Score, Report and Reaction

Mark Patterson@@MarkPattersonBRUK Staff WriterFebruary 1, 2014

Wales's Rhys Priestland, right, gets away from Italy's Luke McLean during their Six Nations international rugby union match between Wales and Italy at the Millennium stadium in Cardiff, Wales, Saturday, Feb. 1, 2014. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Alastair Grant/Associated Press

Defending champions Wales got their Six Nations campaign off to a winning start, but they were far from their best in a 23-15 defeat of Italy.

The win, however, gives the hosts a chance of a Grand Slam and time to get themselves in better shape before they travel to Ireland next weekend.

For Italy it was a familiar story: Their effort was full of heart and endeavour but ultimately fell short. They must go to France next for another tough road trip.

Wales 23-15 Italy: Scoring Details
Cuthbert 4’, Williams 38’TriesCampagnaro 43’, 69’
Halfpenny 5’, 40’ConversionsAllan 70’
Halfpenny 29’, 67’, 74’PenaltiesAllan 14’
Yahoo! Eurosport

The Welsh took the lead early through Alex Cuthbert's try after just three minutes, and though they remained in front for the duration of the match they never managed to put Italy away in their Millennium Stadium clash.

It was a moment of sloppy defending, Cuthbert pouncing on a missed take from Angelo Esposito to cross, and Leigh Halfpenny doing the rest to add the conversion.

CARDIFF, WALES - FEBRUARY 01:  Wales player Leigh Halfpenny kicks at goal watched by coach Neil Jenkins during the RBS Six Nations match between Wales and Italy at the Millennium stadium on February 1, 2014 in Cardiff, Wales.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty
Stu Forster/Getty Images

Italy kept in touch as Tommaso Allan and Halfpenny swapped penalties, but Scott Williams' try on the cusp of half-time ought to have settled the contest.

Video Play Button
Videos you might like

At 17-3, it could have turned into a convincing win, but Italy were not finished.

Michele Campagnaro struck early in the second half to keep the game alive, chasing down Leonardo Sarto's kick to score.

With a quarter of an hour to play, Halfpenny put another three points between the two sides, but Campagnaro struck again, this time intercepting a Halfpenny pass and racing to the line.

Given Allan's conversion it set up a nervy finale for Wales until Halfpenny's penalty moved the lead beyond a converted try.