Women's Six Nations: Italy Women 8-20 Wales Women

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Wales Women got their Six Nations off to a winning start
Women's Six Nations: Italy v Wales
Italy (8) 8
Tries: Furlan Pens: Sillari
Wales (10) 20
Tries: Thomas, Hywel, Phillips Conv: Snowsill Pens: Snowsill

Wales Women made a winning start to the Six Nations with a gritty 20-8 victory over Italy Women at Jesi.

Caryl Thomas' close-range score after 16 minutes helped Wales to a 10-0 lead, with Elinor Snowsill kicking a penalty and conversion.

Italy cut the Welsh lead to 10-8 at the break after Manuela Furlan's try.

But full-back Dyddgu Hywel and hooker Carys Phillips crossed for Wales in the second period before the Welsh defence held out in the closing stages.

Wales dominated the early territory thanks to an astute kicking game, with Snowsill chipping over a 25-metre penalty after nine minutes.

The visitors then made the most of running a tap penalty, with prop Thomas emerging from underneath a pile of bodies as the Welsh pack drove over, Snowsill converting.

Wales Women
Dyddgu Hywel (centre) scored Wales Women's third try of the afternoon against Italy

Italy mounted a storming comeback in the second quarter as winger Michela Sillari knocked over a penalty after the Welsh scrum was put under severe pressure, to the delight of a noisy home crowd.

Then full-back Furlan made the most of room out wide to cross in the corner, leaving Wales hanging on to a precarious 10-8 advantage at half-time.

A similar move then saw Wales' number 15 Hywel emulate Furlan, cutting inside to score the visitors' second try five minutes after the break.

Wales had their fair share of defending to do, but proved more efficient in turning pressure into points as captain Phillips crashed over from a driving maul with 10 minutes left.

Wales then held out in defence for a fifth straight win under new coach Rowland Phillips, the former Wales flanker.

Hywel was named woman of the match for a commanding all-round performance in attack and defence.

She told BBC Wales Sport: "First half, the Italians were putting quite a lot of pressure on us, maybe we lost our shape at some points, but we kept our composure and came back stronger in the second half.

"I feel in the second half we really showed what we can do on the pitch. It's always nice to score but it came off a good drive by the forwards and simple work to finish it off from the backs.

"We've got a lot of analysis to do and then head into training on Tuesday to concentrate on the England game.

"It's a great environment with new management - we've had the perfect build-up with four warm-ups and beating Ireland two weeks ago. It's all about confidence and thankfully we've got that massive win [and are] ready for England next week."

Wales Women: Dyddgu Hywel (Scarlets); Elen Evans (Scarlets), Kerin Lake (Ospreys), Robyn Wilkins (Ospreys), Adi Taviner (Ospreys); Elinor Snowsill (Newport Gwent Dragons), Keira Bevan (Ospreys); Caryl Thomas (Scarlets), Carys Phillips (Ospreys, capt), Amy Evans (Ospreys), Rebecca Rowe (Dragons), Mel Clay (Ospreys), Sioned Harries (Scarlets), Rachel Taylor (Scarlets), Shona Powell-Hughes (Ospreys).

Replacements: Lowri Harries (Scarlets), Cerys Hale (Dragons), Gwenllian Pyrs (Scarlets), Siwan Lillicrap (Ospreys), Alisha Butchers (Scarlets), Sian Moore (Dragons), Gemma Rowland (Dragons), Jessica Kavanagh-Williams (Scarlets).

Referee: Rose LaBreche (Canada)

Assistant referees: Jadezweni Cwengile (SA), Clara Munarini (Italy)

TMO: Neil Paterson (Ireland)

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