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Wales overcome slow start to beat Italy

Associated Press logo Associated Press 5/02/2017 Andrew Dampf

Wales overcame a sluggish start for a 33-7 win over Italy in a rainy Six Nations match on Sunday, narrowly missing out on a bonus point.

Jonathan Davies, Liam Williams and George North scored tries after the hour mark and Leigh Halfpenny kicked for 18 points as the visitors overturned a 7-3 halftime deficit to match England and Scotland with wins on the tournament's opening weekend.

"We started slowly but the character showed," said new Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones, who missed 10 minutes shortly after kick-off due to a blood issue. "We worked a little harder, kept the ball and we came together in the second half. We are a day behind everyone else so it is a foot in the door."

Edoardo Gori scored a first-half try and Italy ruled the scrum early on but, as has often been the case, the Azzurri appeared to tire as the match wore on and committed a series of errors to let Wales take control.

Williams almost got a fourth try - and a bonus point - but lost the ball as he went over the line in the final minute.

The match turned when Andrea Lovotti was sent to the sin bin for Italy's second scrum penalty in quick succession midway through the second half.

Davies slid over the line as Wales rapidly spun the ball around and Williams ran in untouched six minutes later.

Two minutes from the end, North ran in all the way from his own half as Wales finally asserted total control.

"The first half, the weather came down and it was going to be a tight game anyway," North said. "We had to fight to the end, every inch, but we're happy with the performance. We know they are a passionate team but we backed ourselves and it showed."

It was Wales' 11th straight win over Italy, who picked up the wooden spoon last season with a sixth whitewash since joining the competition in 2000.

Italy coach Conor O'Shea was making his tournament debut with the Azzurri and the Stadio Olimpico crowd was fired up after Italy president Sergio Mattarella greeted all of the players on the pitch before kick-off.

However, Italy quickly dropped to the bottom of the standings with zero points. France and Ireland had each picked up one bonus point after losing by seven points or fewer.

"We know Wales were the better side today in the end but I thought we were the better side in the first half," O'Shea said.

"There are a lot of things that we have to change and we'll keep on working."

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