Alun Wyn Jones, Italy v Wales
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Stephen Ferris: Wales to play expansive game against Italy

| 17.03.2022

The Six Nations concludes this weekend and Ladbrokes ambassador Stephen Ferris looks at the first of the three matches, the clash between Wales and Italy. 

Wales vs Italy (Sat, 14.15, BBC)

Wales have won each of their last 14 Six Nations matches against Italy. The last time Wales lost to the Azzurri was way back in 2007 in Rome, one of two defeats against Italy in the Championship, the other being in 2003.

Wales lost last week to a French team who had everything to play for, but that’s not the case with this week’s opponents who are playing for pride. Also, Wales haven’t lost consecutive games at the Principality Stadium for 15 years, so I’m not giving Italy much of a chance to chalk off that stat.

Wayne Pivac has given lots of players a chance since he began his reign, however it seems he has reverted back to the lads that delivered regularly under Warren Garland.

Faletau, Cuthbert, Davies, Williams have been excellent in recent weeks and I fully expect them to dominate once again on Saturday. Alun Wyn Jones might make it back from injury and become the first man ever to achieve 150 caps for his country. I’ve no idea how he keeps going…

This game is a bit of a dead rubber and for that reason I think Wales might play a bit more expansively. They have kicked a lot in their previous four games which has been pretty effective, but I don’t think they will be under too much pressure and Dan Biggar should be able to dictate the flow of the game, and hold on to possession for long periods which will frustrate the men in blue.

Dan Biggar, Wales

The Italians have been on the receiving end of a number of beatings in the last few years of the Six Nations. They have lost their last 36 games in the tournament and I’m very confident it will be 37 come 4pm on Saturday afternoon. Always under scrutiny to produce a one-off win, and with the sides above them continuously getting better, the hill they are climbing to close the gap seems to be getting steeper every year.

Italy have a few quality players like Paolo Garbisi and Monty Ioane who can produce a moment of brilliance at any given time. A rabbit out of a hat situation might get a few points on the scoreboard for Italy, but it’s not going to win them the game unfortunately. They have been physically dominated in each of their last four games which as we all know, is the most important aspect of any game of rugby that is played. Is it a mindset, is it down to coaching, or is it just that they don’t have the same quality of players? I think it’s the latter.

Italy are always brave and play with a lot of passion and emotion. At this level you need more than that to win games, especially away from home.

Prediction: Wales to win by 21-30 pts @ 11/4

Try scorer: Louis Rees-Zammit to score at least two tries @ 9/4

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Warren Barner