Wales' great start helped them hold off a courageous Italian fightback in the opening game of the Six Nations in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium today. First-half tries from backs Alex Cuthbert and Scott Williams, combined with some very neat kicking from full-back Leigh Halfpenny had the reigning champions 17-3 ahead at the break, as they commenced their quest for a three-in-a-row in the Northern Hemisphere's premier annual rugby competition. However, Italy fought back in the second half with an early try from debutant and RBS Six Nations Man of the Match Michele Campagnaro. Walses looked comfortable at 60 minutes, and Gatland made a raft of changes, presumably resting players before next week's crucial clash with Ireland in Dublin. However, Campagnaro pulled of a fantastic interception from a Halfpenny pass to nab a breakaway try for Italy that saw the scoreline at 20-15 with just over 10 minutes left to play. Wales held on however, and a Halfpenny penalty helped them hold off the resurgent Italians to claim a hard-fought first win. Wales: Leigh Halfpenny (Cardiff Blues); Alex Cuthbert (Cardiff Blues), Scott Williams (Scarlets), Jamie Roberts (Racing Metro), George North (Northampton Saints); Rhys Priestland (Scarlets), Mike Phillips (Racing Metro); Paul James (Bath), Richard Hibbard (Ospreys), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Luke Charteris (Perpignan), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys, capt), Dan Lydiate (Racing Metro), Justin Tipuric (Ospreys), Toby Faletau (NG Dragons). Replacements: Ken Owens (Scarlets), Ryan Bevington (Ospreys), Rhodri Jones (Scarlets), Andrew Coombs (NG Dragons), Sam Warburton (Cardiff Blues), Rhys Webb (Ospreys), James Hook (Perpignan), Liam Williams (Scarlets). Italy: L McLean (Treviso); A Esposito (Treviso), M Campagnaro (Treviso), A Sgarbi (Treviso), L Sarto (Zebre); T Allan (Perpignan), E Gori (Treviso); M Rizzo (Treviso) L Ghiraldini (Treviso), M Castrogiovanni (Toulon) Q Geldenhuys (Zebre), M Bortolami (Zebre), A Zanni (Treviso), S Parisse (capt, Stade Francais), M Bergamasco (Zebre). Replacements: D Giazzon (Zebre), A De Machi (Treviso), J Furno (Biarritz Olympique), F Minto (Treviso), T W Botes (Treviso) L Orquera (Zebre), T Iannone (Zebre).
Diarmuid is a freelance student and studious sports journalist operating out of the wilds of Dublin, Ireland. His specialist subjects include the English Premier League, the GAA, and track and field athletics.