Hat-trick hero Adams says more to come from Wales after Italy rout

by Julian GUYER
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Wales wing Josh Adams (centre) dives over the line to score his third try during the Six Nations match against Italy in Cardiff on February 1, 2019

Josh Adams said there was more to come from Wales after his hat-trick of tries helped the Six Nations champions launch their title defence with a 42-0 hammering of Italy in Cardiff on Saturday.

Not since Maurice Richards crossed four times against England back in 1969 had a Wales player scored three or more tries in a home Five or Six Nations fixture.

For Adams it was a case of carrying on from a World Cup in Japan last year, where he finished as the leading try-scorer with seven.`

A home game against Italy, who've now last their 23 matches in the Six Nations, always looked to be an ideal fixture for Wayne Pivac's first Test as Wales coach, following November's non-cap clash against the Barbarians.

An elated Adams told the BBC: "It was a big win at home to start off and we nilled them which was a great positive for us as well.

"But don't get me wrong, we are not the finished article."

Adams has now scored 10 tries in his last eight Tests but the 24-year-old Cardiff Blues wing said the credit belonged to the players inside him.

"Right place, right time," he explained. "There is no real secret. If you work hard and get yourself in half decent positions then hopefully you can then finish them off.

"To credit all the boys the hard work is done inside me and my job out wide is to finish them off."

With debutant replacement Nick Tompkins and George North also touching down against the Azzurri, Wales have now scored half the number of tries -- 10 in total -- they managed when winning the Six Nations last season with a Grand Slam.

For all they were defensively sound under former coach Warren Gatland, whose 12-year reign ended following a run to the semi-finals of Japan 2019, there are hopes fellow New Zealander Pivac will expand Wales' attacking game.

- Adams 'right up there' -

Pivac, whose new backroom staff features former Wales fly-half Stephen Jones as his attack coach, said the aim was to give Wales' wings more try-scoring chances.

"He (Adams) was a top try scorer on the biggest stage so he's got to be right up there. With Stephen running the attack and the way we want to play the game, I think wingers will get more opportunities."

Pivac was particularly pleased by the way Adams completed his hat-trick in stoppage time at the end of the game.

"He could have easily just parked up out on his wing but after more than 80 minutes, he's in close to the ruck looking for the ball and using his strengths to get over the try-line."

Meanwhile interim Italy coach Franco Smith said Azzurri errors, rather than a lack of commitment, had been behind a lopsided result.

"I think with a little bit of scoreboard pressure things could have been different and will be different," he insisted.

Italy's latest heavy loss will intensify the debate about whether the Six Nations needs relegation and former South Africa fly-half Smith said he understood why questions were being asked

But citing a 17-7 victory for Italy over Wales in an Under-20s match on Friday, he added: "There's a good group of people coming through.

"I wouldn't have accepted this role and responsibility if I didn't believe that Italian rugby can make a step up and they will."

"I was in the changing room tonight, the result is not a reflection of the quality of the side."

Treble triumph - Wales wing Josh Adams (C) completes his hat-trick against Italy

Winning start - Wales coach Wayne Pivac