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All too easy as Adams helps himself to hat-trick

Wales 42 Italy 0

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Nick Tompkins will start against Ireland

Nick Tompkins will start against Ireland

PA

Nick Tompkins will start against Ireland

The question of whether Wales will wane under Wayne Pivac was not posed with Italy willing but feeble as they started life without Sergio Parisse. Ireland in Dublin on Saturday are far more likely to demand an answer, but the home side achieved a first under their new head coach, not conceding a point for the first time in the Six Nations as well as banking a bonus.

The difference another year makes was evident from the kick-off and was highlighted when Nick Tompkins came off the bench to make his Test debut.

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Italy's Luca Morisi tackles Wales' George North. Photo: Getty Images

Italy's Luca Morisi tackles Wales' George North. Photo: Getty Images

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Wales had possession for two minutes and did not resort to the boot once. Leigh Halfpenny passed when fielding a kick in his own half and the recipient, Dan Biggar, who last year would have sent the ball high into the air and set off in determined pursuit, set off and passed.

It was the unfurling of a flag with more colours. Wales were not reluctant to take to the skies but there was an attacking intent to the strategy with few incontestable kicks. Italy's full-back, Matteo Minozzi, is not the most physically imposing in the game but, if he had feared being buried underneath a posse of chasers, it was his positioning rather than his courage that was tested.

Wales played a certain way under Warren Gatland but here they varied their game against opponents who were anxious to speed up the game without being able to control the breakdown.

If it marked an ideal start for Pivac, it was poor preparation for Dublin and there were areas of concern, not least the set-pieces and defence around the fringes where Italy enjoyed some profit.

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Wales' Josh Adams scores his side's first try as he is challenged by Italy's Tommaso Allan. Photo: Getty Images

Wales' Josh Adams scores his side's first try as he is challenged by Italy's Tommaso Allan. Photo: Getty Images

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It was Wales's eight successive victory in the Six Nations, which equalled their record, and it also extended their run at home to six wins. Before Gatland they lost in front of their supporters in the tournament more often than they won, 10-9, but in his 12 years they suffered six defeats and only England have won here since 2013.

Italy never looked like emulating their 2006 draw at the ground, never mind improving on it.

They conceded two penalties at the breakdown in the opening 10 minutes which Biggar converted into points before adding a third after Andrea Lovotti tripped Halfpenny as the full-back chased his kick into space.

The Azzurri had their moments, Abraham Steyn's disguised pass putting Matti Bellini into space, but they were reduced to sniping and crumpled all too readily in defence.

Wales's two first-half tries were scored by Josh Adams and took him to 12 in the last year, the highest in Test rugby. Both came from line-outs that had followed penalties.

Wales clustered the midfield and drew the defence before long passes from Tompkins and Halfpenny gave Adams just enough room to score in the corner.

Tompkins, on as a temporary replacement for Johnny McNicholl, who was having a head injury assessment, had won the penalty after forcing Bellini to hold on after a tackle.

He made a permanent entry after 52 minutes, taking over from Hadleigh Parkes, and provided the creativity Wales need if they are to turn the thoughts of Pivac into results.

He scored Wales's third try on 59 minutes after the game had started to drift. Cory Hill broke from his open half and, after declining to pass to Biggar outside him, went to ground.

Italy were still working out where to position themselves when Tompkins picked up, ran straight through a hole where a guard should have been, turned Minozzi inside out and scored under the posts from 35 metres.

Four minutes later he set up George North, drawing Jayden Hayward before timing his pass, but the bonus-point try was ruled out after a review showed Tompkins had flicked the ball forward in the build-up.

The only try Wales scored when he was not on the field came after 28 minutes when they got nowhere with a maul before Biggar passed to Adams beneath his legs and exposed Leonardo Sarto who had drifted away from the player he should have been marking.

Tompkins was Wales's central figure in the final quarter, adept at raising the pace of the game and detecting fractures in the defensive line.

They secured the bonus point with three minutes to go through North who, despite taking a pass from Rhys Webb behind him, had the strength to turn and power through two tackles, assisted by Alun Wyn Jones, before setting up Adams's hat-trick.

Italy, for the fourth time in the Six Nations, were pointless, left clutching their victory in the under-20 international in Colwyn Bay the night before.

Scorers - Wales: Adams (3), Tompkins, North tries; Biggar 3 pens, 2 cons, Halfpenny 2 cons.

Wales: Halfpenny; McNicholl, North, Parkes, Adams; Biggar, Williams; Wyn Jones, Owens, Lewis, Ball, Alun Wyn Jones (capt), Wainwright, Tipuric, Faletau. Replacements: Elias, Evans, Brown, Hill, Moriarty, Webb, Evans, Tompkins.

Italy: Minozzi; Sarto, Morisi, Canna, Bellini; Allan, Braley; Lovotti, Bigi (capt), Zilocchi, Zanni, Cannone, Polledri, Negri, Steyn. Replacements: Zani, Fischetti, Riccioni, Budd, Lazzaroni, Licata, Palazzani, Hayward.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England).

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