CARDIFF, United Kingdom - Wales began their quest for an unprecedented third successive Six Nations title with a shaky 23-15 victory over a gutsy Italy at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The build-up to this fixture had been overshadowed by the bitter row within Welsh rugby over a 'player exodus' to foreign clubs and the future of the country's four regional teams.
But politics were put to one side as Wales saw off a determined Azzurri side, whose performance belied a poor record that now stands at 16 matches without an away win in the Six Nations.
Wales led 17-3 at half-time after converted tries from wing Alex Cuthbert and centre Scott Williams were separated by a Leigh Halfpenny penalty.
But they were caught cold soon after the break by the first of Italy centre Michele Campagnaro's two tries and didn't manage another point until Halfpenny's 66th minute penalty.
But just when it seemed they'd put the match beyond Italy's reach, man-of-the-match Campagnaro intercepted Halfpenny's pass and ran in for a try under the posts which fly-half Tommasso Allan converted.
Now, with 11 minutes left, Wales led by just five points before another Halfpenny penalty put them two scores in front at 23-15.