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Wales' Ian Evans still has hopes of retaining Six Nations

Updated: Friday, 22 Feb 2013 10:55 | Comments

Ian Evans still believes Wales can retain the Six Nations
Ian Evans still believes Wales can retain the Six Nations

Ian Evans has underlined Wales' desire to keep their hands on the RBS 6 Nations trophy this season.

The title holders bounced back from an opening weekend home defeat against Ireland by claiming a first victory over France in Paris for eight years.

And if they can produce another winning display at the expense of Italy in Rome tomorrow then it would ensure that pressure is maintained on championship leaders and current title favourites England.

Wales host England on March 16 in what could be a championship decider, although each country has two games left before that Millennium Stadium showdown.

"If everything progresses the way we hope it will, it could all come down to the last game," Wales lock Evans said. "But we have got to take it step by step.

"You can't win a Grand Slam every year. The bottom line is to try to come away with the trophy and try to represent ourselves to a high standard.

"If Italy can get their tails up in the first 20 minutes, they can be a great team with their confidence up.

"The first 20 minutes are always key. They are a passionate team, and if we can take that sting out of it, especially up front, hopefully we can stick to our game plan.

"People give Italy a lot of disrespect, but when you play them in Rome they are a very good team.

"Speaking from a regional rugby point of view, you go to Treviso and they are a very tough team to beat. They deserve your respect."

Wales have come unstuck on two previous Six Nations visits to Rome, losing in 2003 and 2007, but they start as firm favourites tomorrow, especially as the Azzurri are without their suspended skipper and best player Sergio Parisse.

Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni takes over leadership duties, while coach Jacques Brunel has reacted to the comprehensive defeat against Scotland last time out by dropping half-backs Luciano Orquera and Tobias Botes.

Italy will also find themselves in opposition to a Wales defence that accomplished the not insignificant feat of shutting out France a fortnight ago.

"I would like to be the team that concedes the least tries in this competition," Wales assistant coach and defence specialist Shaun Edwards said.

"If we can do that it would be the third time in six years we have done it. It is a big ask because we are up against some big opponents, but that is the target.

"We did concede six points from two scrum penalties against France, but not to concede one point outside of that was a very special effort.

"If we can repeat that in Italy I would be delighted."

Live RBS 6 Nations coverage on RTÉ Two from 2pm on Saturday 23 February and 1.15pm on Sunday 24 February (Scotland v Ireland). Live streaming Ireland only.

Live radio coverage of Scotland v Ireland on Sunday Sport on RTÉ Radio 1 from 1.50pm. Live streaming available worldwide.

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