Six Nations 2017: Italy v Wales - the talking points

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Highlights: Italy 7-33 Wales
Six Nations: Wales v England
Venue: Principality Stadium, Cardiff Date: Saturday, 11 February Kick-off: 16:50 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales, S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary

Wales completed their 11th consecutive victory over Italy when they won 33-7 in a wet Rome on Sunday.

They toiled for an hour before subduing a fired-up Azzurri, and then only pulled away after their hosts were reduced to 14-men for 10 minutes on the hour mark.

Wales play England next in Cardiff on Saturday 11 February, while Italy host Ireland the same day with the visitors having suffered a nail-biting defeat by Scotland.

But what did we learn from this Roman encounter - and what can it tell us looking ahead to the rest of the tournament?

Indiscipline costs points

Italy were on the wrong side referee JP Doyle and a lopsided penalty count which saw Wales concede just five to the Azzurri's 16 over the 80 minutes.

Even when Wales turned down three kicks at goal in the opening 20 minutes, the continued infringements allowed full-back Leigh Halfpenny to wrestle the initiative from the home team with four penalties in just over quarter of an hour either side of half time.

Wales coach Robert Howley praised his team's composure in the face of a fierce Italian onslaught.

"I've got to praise our guys because I thought our discipline was fantastic," he said.

"It's is about trusting systems and trusting your mates and we didn't give away any easy penalties which enabled them to get field position in the first half."

Italy coach Conor O'Shea had a different interpretation.

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The former Ireland international felt the penalty count did not reflect the game.

"We have a big challenge to change a lot of our mentality and to understand that things do against you. We lost our discipline in the second half," he said.

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"We have to change perception because we need to make sure that both red and blue are being looked at in exactly the same way.

"We know that Wales were the better side in the end, but I thought that we were the better side in the first half and we have to make sure we change the perception of people who look at us so we're officiated on a level playing field."

Matches turn on small incidents

Italy's half-time lead could have been greater if Wales had not repulsed a powerful attack on the stroke of half-time.

After surviving the early onslaught Italy were on top as the seconds ticked down to the interval and another try could have asked seriously difficult questions of Howley's team.

"I thought it was a particular game changer," said the Wales coach.

"Going in 7-3 at half-time as opposed to 12-3 or 14-3 was a big difference."

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Italy, on the other hand, lost the momentum they had built in the first half allowing Halfpenny to kick Wales into the lead in the 52nd minute.

When his opposite number Edoardo Padavani knocked on under no pressure, Italy were penalised at the resulting scrum and Halfpenny opened a five-point lead for Wales.

"We didn't manage the game in the first 20 minutes of the second half, we allowed them to 6-9-12 and that made a big difference," said O'Shea ruefully.

Davies or Biggar - the fly-half debate rumbles on

Sam Davies - who came on for the injured Dan Biggar after the interval - recovered from a shaky start, when he was twice stripped of possession, to impress with ball in hand.

In Wales that's the cue for an argument about who should start at 10 against England, provided Biggar is fit.

It's one Howley is not prepared to settle prematurely.

"I think he showed in the autumn that he's ready to start, he came over here with a progression plan in terms of experience," he said.

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"Sam has showed lovely touches and has a unique left foot, but we'll have to wait and see how Dan comes out with his rib actually.

"But overall Sam's done really well which puts pressure on coaches in terms of selection.

"He's come on in a difficult game and created opportunities for others, created space, showed composure."

So for Wales, is the glass half full?

Well, it's half full if you're Howley.

"It's a win, and momentum is important in the Six Nations," said the former Wales and British and Irish Lions scrum-half.

"We mentioned before the game that the conditions would have an influence and that certainly was the case.

"We know how tough it is to come to face on Italy coached by fantastic coaches and the conditions made it even harder for us.

"So we're happy and want to move on quickly and focus on the next game."

The challenge of England

The defending champions may have had their own issues as they beat France on the opening weekend, but have beaten Wales in their two meetings under Eddie Jones.

Having played on Saturday, England have one more day to recover than Wales, but Howley was making positive noises before leaving for the night flight back to Cardiff.

"We've done a lot of our analysis on England already," he said.

"I said to the players before the game it's important we start the competition well, we haven't done so for four years really.

"So I'm glad from that perspective that we can go into the next game with a little more self-belief and confidence."

After 15 consecutive wins, confidence will not be in short supply in the white shirts, either.

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