Howley hails composed Wales
Rob Howley hailed his Wales side after they adapted superbly to testing conditions at a soaking Stadio Olimpico to beat Italy in the 6 Nations.
Torrential rain made life treacherous for the reigning Six Nations champions, but second-half tries by centre Jonathan Davies and wing Alex Cuthbert sent Italy packing 26-9.
Full-back Leigh Halfpenny chipped in with 16 points from four penalties and two conversions as Wales recorded a fourth successive Six Nations away win for the first time since the championship began 13 years ago.
And it sets them up for appointments with Scotland and England next month, knowing that a retention of Six Nations silverware they won in Grand Slam fashion last season is not beyond them.
"I am very pleased," Wales' interim head coach Howley said.
"We adapted really well to the conditions and the deluge. We showed patience and composure and we took our opportunities.
"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 today 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)."
The only downbeat note for Wales was a calf muscle injury suffered by prop Gethin Jenkins. Although the extent of it is unknown at present, he could be a doubt for the Scotland game on March 9.
For the second successive Six Nations Test, Wales did not concede a try, and Italy rarely threatened them as Wales recorded a third successive win in Rome.
"The first half was tough. The conditions had a huge impact on the way both teams played, but our game-management was excellent," skipper Jones said.
"All 23 players showed composure and maturity. It was a good day at the office in the scrum - there are six very happy front-row forwards in our changing room.
"The attitude was superb. You can never question that. We dug really deep today, and it showed in the way we played."
Wales caused Italy particular grief in the scrums, and forwards coach Robin McBryde was delighted after his pack responded so strongly after experiencing a testing time in Paris two weeks ago.
"We knew it was going to be a big challenge in the scrums, and we wanted to take ownership in that area," McBryde said.
"Fair play to the players. A scrum is a collective effort, and as an eight they stood up and exerted pressure."
Italy captain Martin Castrogiovanni had no complaints after seeing his team suffer a second successive comprehensive Six Nations reversal following their 34-10 loss to Scotland a fortnight ago.
The Leicester prop, stand-in skipper for suspended Sergio Parisse, capped a miserable day by being sin-binned midway through the second period, and Wales scored a try in his 10-minute absence.
"We conceded nine points from scrums, which is my problem as well as the team's. I need to work on that," he said.
"The referee is always right. If we had done what we were told and also managed our kicking game better, maybe the referee wouldn't have mattered so much.
"There are no excuses. You need to be perfect in all aspects, but we weren't today.
"I was very honoured to be made captain, but I don't like losing. I hate losing even when I am playing Playstation.
"We didn't really handle some areas very well. There are ups and down in life, and today was one of the downs."
And Italy coach Jacques Brunel added: "I don't think the problem was our ability to play, we just didn't manage the game very well. Wales were a lot more precise than us.
"That was the difference, Wales were more efficient. Our game just wasn't there today."