James Davies will make his highly anticipated debut for Wales against Italy this weekend in round four of the Six Nations, in Cardiff this weekend. The openside flanker has impressed at the Scarlets tearing the breakdown up as well as being solid around the park.
Gatland rings the changes for Italy
Warren Gatland has made a plethora of changes to the side that faced Ireland nearly two weeks ago. Talaupe Faletau leads a squad which will see James Davies receive his first Welsh cap.
Gareth Anscombe starts at fly half following his positive recent performances and Owen Watkin comes into the midfield to partner Hadleigh Parkes.
TEAM NEWS 🏴 @taulupe returns to lead Wales against @Federugby. Croeso nol i’r wythwr profiadol Taulupe Faletau, sydd yn arwain Cymru dydd Sul: https://t.co/9Z0uPrdlFx #WALvITA pic.twitter.com/oZc2uOnSEv
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) 7 March 2018
James Davies call-up a key to Wales’ success
With Warburton out and Tipuric not gaining a huge amount of game time this campaign Wales have lacked that ‘true’ openside. Someone who can slow the ball down at each breakdown.
James Davies’ debut should give them the opportunity to do just that. Italy aren’t a side that should trouble Wales too much and nor should they be in possession of the ball for long enough to do so.
Wales will hope that the backrow of Tipuric, Davies and Faletau would start gaining more turnovers in this match with slowing the ball down coming in as an afterthought.
Gatland will be hoping his side dominate the breakdown and thus have a platform to attack off.
Wales set to play a fast pace
Gatland has made 10 changes to the squad that faced Ireland as he looks to play an attacking style against a loose Italian side.
Italy have defended very poorly in the campaign so far, missing tackles and not dealing with running channels. Wales will be hoping that Gareth Davies and Gareth Anscombe can get the chains moving and show promise with a great backline behind them.
Parkes and Watkin in midfield will offer powerful runners, but also a strong defensive structure if needed. Some exciting running lines will be exploited with Anscombe delivering quick and accurate ball.
Steff Evans and George North lining up on the wing offers Wales a set of Powerful finishers. Something that will need to be utilised against the Italians who are shipping points for fun.
Set piece a good target to build from
Italy look totally inept upfront. Wales have selected a strong pack and will be looking to not only dominate around the park, but to get on top at scrums and lineouts.
The Welsh front row of Nicky Smith, Elliot Dee and Tomas Francis have a chance to really put themselves in the frame for the France game with a good performance against Italy.
Cory Hill and Brad Davies offer solid lineout options and Wales will be looking to get a mixture of quick ball off the set piece and driving forward from them, to make hard yards.
Result perhaps not a foregone conclusion
Despite Italy’s heavy defeats so far in the tournament they may still have a chance against Wales.
10 changes to a side can often disrupt the flow and cause a slow start. Wales won’t want that as Italy will be happy to stick in there, take penalties if they arise and try and sneak into a lead.
Players like Alessandro Zanni and Sergio Parisse can still cause opposition back rowers issues and so Wales will have to be sharp, disciplined and take chances to defeat Italy as heavily as they’d like.
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