sport

Biggar satisfied with Wales

Dan Biggar gave Wales a seven out of 10 mark after the reigning Six Nations champions kept themselves in title contention at Stadio Olimpico.

Six Nations silverware still appears destined for Stuart Lancaster's resurgent England team this season, but if Wales do end up relinquishing their crown it will not be with a whimper.

Wales' 26-9 victory was their second biggest over Italy in Rome and also gave them a fourth successive Six Nations away win, which is a feat they had never previously accomplished during the championship's 13-year history.

And having gone almost 200 minutes without conceding a try - they shut out Italy two weeks after achieving lockdown in Paris - Biggar and company are building nicely towards next month's clashes against Scotland and England.

England's superior points difference is likely to be even more pronounced following Italy's Twickenham visit on March 10, but if Wales beat Scotland 24 hours earlier in Edinburgh it would set up a spine-tingling Millennium Stadium showdown between two of rugby's fiercest rivals.

Hopefully by then the Wales players will have dried out after torrential rain did its utmost to ruin a contest that was decided by second-half tries from centre Jonathan Davies and wing Alex Cuthbert.

"The conditions were difficult, but we stuck to what we wanted to do and it was a pretty good 7 out of 10," fly-half Biggar said.

"At the end of the day, it's a win, and good sides do that. You look at Man United, year after year they might not play well week in week out, but they get three points.

"It is important that we can win when we are not playing 100 per cent, and that is what we've done the last three weeks.

"It's no good playing well and losing, you don't get anything from that. Obviously, you are entertaining people, but internally you get very little from it.

"Once you have got that solid base with a couple of wins, it's important to push on and get a couple more.

"It is difficult enough coming to Italy anyway, but the wind and the rain in the first-half was absolutely torrential and it was always going to be about sticking to the game-plan rather than giving a 10 out of 10 performance.

"We didn't want to play a lot in our half, and the coaches are very pleased with the way we operated it."

Italy were still in the contest at half-time, trailing only 9-6 following two Kristopher Burton penalties to three by Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, but the game then turned quickly.

A damaging third quarter for the Azzurri saw Davies score barely a minute after they blew an open goal try opportunity when centre Tommaso Benvenuti could not gather possession in sight of Wales' line, then captain Martin Castrogiovanni was sin-binned.

Castrogiovanni, stand-in skipper for the suspended Sergio Parisse, collected a yellow card that highlighted overwhelming Welsh scrum dominance, and Cuthbert crossed for the clincher while he was off.

"You can get a bit carried away," Biggar added. "We stuck to our game and kept doing what went well for us.

"The first try we got a break, but we scored a very good second try. It puts us in a good place and we are looking forward to the Scotland Test.

"We are on a little bit of a roll now. The bottom line is that we deeply want to win, and that shone through again in this game."

The only disappointing note for Wales was a calf muscle injury suffered by prop Gethin Jenkins, who could now be doubtful to face Scotland, but elsewhere resources were strengthened by fit-again forwards Alun-Wyn Jones and Sam Warburton impressing as second-half replacements.

"We adapted really well to the conditions and the deluge. We showed patience and composure and we took our opportunities," Wales' interim head coach Rob Howley said.

"Our scrum was very impressive and gave us the platform. International rugby is about fine margins, and it was testament to the attitude of the players and their application in difficult conditions.

"The adaptability of the team is very good, and they were once again very well led by Ryan Jones."

And Jones added: "The first-half was tough. The conditions had a huge impact on the way both teams played, but our game-management was excellent.

"All 23 players showed composure and maturity. The attitude was superb. You can never question that. We dug really deep, and it showed in the way we played."