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Italy 9-26 Wales, Six Nations, February 23
Howley praises Wales' professionalism
ESPN Staff
February 23, 2013
Wales' Jonathan Davies crashes over, Italy v Wales, Six Nations, Stadio Olympico, Rome, Italy, February 23, 2013
Jonathan Davies scored one of Wales' two tries © PA Photos
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Teams: Italy | Wales

Wales' interim boss Rob Howley praised his side for the way they adapted to testing conditions in Rome to beat Italy 26-9 on Saturday.

Torrential rain made life treacherous for Wales, but second-half tries by centre Jonathan Davies and wing Alex Cuthbert helped Howley's men to their second win in as many games. Fullback Leigh Halfpenny was named Man of the Match and he chipped in with 16 points from four penalties and two conversions

Wales' win means that if they beat Scotland and England in their remaining two matches then a second Six Nations triumph in as many years is not beyond them.

"I am very pleased," said Howley. "We adapted really well to the conditions and the deluge. We showed patience and composure and we took our opportunities.

"Our scrum was very impressive and gave us the platform. International rugby is about fine margins, and it was testament to the attitude of the players today and their application in difficult conditions. The adaptability of the team is very good, and they were once again very well led by Ryan [Jones]."

The only downbeat note for Wales was a calf muscle injury suffered by prop Gethin Jenkins. Although the extent of it is unknown at present, he could be a doubt for the Scotland game on March 9. But on a positive note, for the second successive Six Nations Test, Wales did not concede a try, and Italy rarely threatened them as Wales recorded a third successive win in Rome.

"The first half was tough. The conditions had a huge impact on the way both teams played, but our game-management was excellent," skipper Jones said. "All 23 players showed composure and maturity. It was a good day at the office in the scrum - there are six very happy front-row forwards in our changing room.

"The attitude was superb. You can never question that. We dug really deep today, and it showed in the way we played."

Italy captain Martin Castrogiovanni had no complaints after seeing his team suffer a second successive comprehensive Six Nations reversal following their 34-10 loss to Scotland a fortnight ago. The Leicester prop, stand-in skipper for suspended Sergio Parisse, capped a miserable day by being sin-binned midway through the second period, and Wales scored a try in his 10-minute absence.

"We conceded nine points from scrums, which is my problem as well as the team's. I need to work on that," he said. "The referee is always right. If we had done what we were told and also managed our kicking game better, maybe the referee wouldn't have mattered so much.

"There are no excuses. You need to be perfect in all aspects, but we weren't today. I was very honoured to be made captain, but I don't like losing. I hate losing even when I am playing Playstation. We didn't really handle some areas very well. There are ups and down in life, and today was one of the downs."

And Italy coach Jacques Brunel added: "I don't think the problem was our ability to play, we just didn't manage the game very well. Wales were a lot more precise than us. That was the difference, Wales were more efficient. Our game just wasn't there today."

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