Planet Rugby

Wales were always in control - Jones

03rd February 2014 06:21

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Alun Wyn Jones Wales v Italy SN 2014

Wants improvement: Alun Wyn Jones

Wales captain Alun Wyn Jones always felt his side were in control in Saturday's 23-15 victory over Italy in Cardiff.

The defending champions were under the cosh when the second of Michele Campagnaro's two tries saw Italy close to within a single score. But Leigh Halfpenny's third panalty ended the Azzurri's resistance with six minutes remaining.

Wales boss Warren Gatland admitted that the finish was a nervy one but Jones said the players on the pitch were always confident they would close out the game and get their quest for a third successive tournament title up and running.

"It probably looked as though we were under more pressure than it felt on the park," he explained.

"One of their tries was an interception and one was from a kick. It was a case of locking down the hatches and sticking to what we'd been doing..

"The message was to be simple on our exits, simple in our play and to get back into our patterns. With the kickers we've got, we knew that if we got opportunities for points we'd just take the three and keep stretching the scoreboard, which we did.

"It's a big potential banana skin to get out of the way. We were acutely aware of the performances Italy put in last year and we realised how difficult it was going to be."

Wales's willingness to run the ball at almost every opportunity brought some handling errors but Jones said that is perhaps expected, although he wants improvement when they face Ireland in Dublin next weekend.

"A willingness to play with ambition comes with mistakes," added Jones.

"We were looking to play and use the ball - something we've been criticised about in the past.

"We seemed to spend a lot of time around the fringes of their 22 but we probably squandered it and were a bit soft.

"Ultimately, we started to come back into the game but we couldn't keep the tempo up, particularly at set-piece time for certain reasons. But we need to hold on to the ball when we get into those (scoring) areas.

"In the past we've seemed to get more points the more phases we go through and we really don't want to put ourselves under pressure at those times."

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