15. Luke McLean: 7
A subtly impressive outing from McLean. Some excellent kicking from hand allowed Italy to claw their way back after a poor start, and he made few half breaks without ever managing to truly break free. Barely put a foot wrong.
14. Angelo Esposito: 5
A horrible error in the third minute missing the bounce of Rhys Priestland’s nudge through allowing Alex Cuthbert to touchdown was a terrible way to start his international career. Never looked comfortable with either of the big Welsh wings running down his channel.
13. Michele Campagnaro: 8
A fine introduction to 6 Nations rugby, with two opportunist tries standing out amongst a number of excellent moments. A huge hit in midfield in the first half raised the whole tempo of the Italian side and Campagnaro was Italy’s brightest spark all afternoon.
12. Alberto Sgarbi: 4
The bulky centre struggled in the gainline battle, missing a key tackle on Roberts that lead to the second Welsh try. Neither could he provide a second distributor to relieve some of the pressure on Allan inside him.
11. Leonardo Sarto: 6
Showed good spatial awareness to kick through in the build up to Campagnaro’s first try. Was largely limited to a peripheral role by Italy’s narrow gameplan. Will get further opportunities to stake his claim.
10. Tommaso Allan: 7
A promising display from the youngster, although he took a little time to settle. ‘Tommy’ didn’t quite manage to add any width to Italy’s game but looked threatening when he finally got some quick ball and was able to attack the line. Goal kicking let him down however, and the missed points were effectively the difference between the sides.
9. Eduardo Gori: 4.5
Praised in some quarters as Italy put together a spirited performance but the buck must stop with him for the lack of pace in Italy’s attack. When he moved the ball quickly, Italy made yards over the gain-line and looked like they could cause some problems but was too often ponderous and Italy were left limp in phase play as forward runners were often sent into a red wall.
8. Sergio Parisse: 7
Another sterling effort from the iconic number 8, who got through a massive amount of work but was perhaps not as effective in his carries as in years past. Even on a quiet day he is still Italy’s best performer by a country mile. Campagnaro’s tries alone account for his higher score.
7. Mauro Bergamasco: 4
Old Mauro must shoulder some of the blame for the sluggishness of Italy’s possession. He wasn’t dynamic enough when Italy were clearing the breakdown, although he was not the only guilty party in that respect. Gave away a crucial penalty on the Welsh five metre line as the Azzurri looked to be building some momentum in the first half.
6. Alessandro Zanni: 6
A quiet if industrious performance from Zanni, who showed excellent physicality in defence, constantly slowing and disrupting Welsh possession. Like many of his teammates he couldn’t find an extra gear in attack.
5. Quintin Geldenhuys: 6
Got stuck into the Welsh pack and put in a strong showing in the tight and set piece. Another who was largely ineffective in the carry and at the breakdown, which for a man of his dimensions is a disappointment.
4. Marco Bortolami: 7
Caused the Welsh lineout some real bother, although was not always immaculate on his own ball. Matched his opposite numbers blow for blow and was disruptive and niggly all afternoon.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni: 5
Not Castro’s finest day at the office. A few penalties against him at the scrum for angling in either cost Italy points or momentum. Managed to eke out one or two himself but ultimately would have wanted to stamp his authority with greater emphasis in that department. Too few sightings of him in open play was also a letdown.
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini: 7
A bustling ball of fiery energy. Not quite perfect in the lineout but neither were there any major indiscretions that could be counted against him. Tireless work rate around the field made for a compelling personal battle with his opposite man Hibbard.
1. Michele Rizzo: 6
Another who, whilst not doing anything flash, kept plugging away. Came under a bit of pressure from Adam Jones but responded well and finally has an opportunity to make the loose-head shirt his own.
By Patrick Cheshire (@jpcheshire)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images