Adams' hat-trick sees Wales launch Pivac era with Italy win
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Cardiff (United Kingdom) (AFP)
Josh Adams scored a hat-trick of tries as Grand Slam champions Wales began their Six Nations title defence by thrashing Italy 42-0 in Cardiff on Saturday in Wayne Pivac's first Test as coach.
Wales were a commanding 21-0 ahead at half-time under the closed roof of the Principality Stadium following a double from Adams, the leading try-scorer at last year's World Cup in Japan. He grabbed his third in stoppage time at the end of the game.
The Cardiff Blues wing has scored 10 tries in his last eight Tests.
Debutant replacement Nick Tompkins added a third try. George North, playing at centre rather than on the wing following Jonathan Davies' tournament-ending knee injury, powered over from close range for a bonus-point try -- his 40th for Wales -- four minutes from time.
Former Scarlets boss Pivac took over from fellow New Zealander Warren Gatland after a successful 12-year reign as Wales coach ended at the World Cup.
For Italy, themselves under a new coach in caretaker boss Franco Smith, this reverse extended their Six Nations losing streak to 23 matches.
Wales fly-half Dan Biggar kicked the hosts into an early lead with two close-range penalties before a 40-metre effort made it 9-0.
Italy tried to spread the play but Wales, with Aaron Wainwright carrying on from where he left off at the World Cup and fellow flanker Justin Tipuric impressive in defence, kept them at bay.
World Cup semi-finalists Wales' first try arrived in the 18th minute when fullback Leigh Halfpenny sent Adams in at the corner for an unconverted score.
Adams, the leading try-scorer at Japan 2019 with seven, went over again on the half-hour.
Following a maul near Italy's line and quick ball from scrum-half Tomos Williams, Biggar, with his back to Adams, managed to find the flyer with an outrageous pass between his legs.
Biggar landed a tough conversion from the touchline and Wales led 21-0.
Italy pressed for a try in the second half as they declined kickable penalties but rarely looked like penetrating the Welsh defence.
On the hour, replacement forward Cory Hill made a break and Saracens centre Tompkins, coming off a ruck, sprinted clear from some 40 metres.
North thought he had scored a bonus point try but a Tompkins knock-on saw his effort disallowed.
But he was not to be denied before Adams too forced his way over from close range.
Wales are away to Ireland next weekend, when Italy travel to France.
© 2020 AFP