Gatland happy with 'tough' win
10:49am Sunday 2nd February 2014 in © Press Association 2014
Warren Gatland declared himself "pretty satisfied" after Wales launched their bid for an unprecedented RBS 6 Nations title hat-trick by beating Italy in Cardiff.
Wales huffed and puffed for parts of a 23-15 success, and they could not build on a 14-point interval lead secured by first-half tries from wing Alex Cuthbert and centre Scott Williams.
Italy fought back through a second-half try double by their impressive centre Michele Campagnaro, but Wales still made it 10 wins from their last 11 Six Nations starts.
"It was tough," Wales head coach Gatland said. "We've got to give Italy a lot of credit.
"We are pretty satisfied. There were some real positives, and there were some things to work on.
"We definitely kept them in the game in terms of a couple of crucial turnovers and an intercept, but we are off to a reasonable start and I wouldn't be surprised if Italy win a few games in this competition.
"It will focus the minds for next week (when Wales tackle Ireland in Dublin). It wasn't an easy run-out and it was tough, which was the way we wanted it.
"There are just are a few things for us to fix up on in terms of making sure we are a bit more accurate and clinical. We know we get stronger as a tournament goes on. It's that first one, and now we can look forward to the rest of it."
Gatland had short shrift for those who might raise last year's Brian O'Driscoll saga on the British and Irish Lions tour building towards next Saturday's Dublin showdown.
Gatland, in his role as Lions coach, received scathing criticism in many quarters after he dropped O'Driscoll for the deciding final Test against Australia. The Lions won 41-16.
"As far as I am concerned, that's dead and gone," Gatland added.
"It's not about Brian and myself. Brian has moved on, I have moved on. It is about 46 players and two nations playing an international next weekend.
"The game is more important than myself and Brian, and if people want to make an issue out of that for next week, to me it is just lazy journalism. Move on.
"It (the Ireland game) is a massive challenge for us. It is going to be a huge game for both teams. If Ireland manage to beat Scotland (on Sunday), you've got two teams coming together from opening victories on the first weekend.
"It will be interesting to see how they go (against Scotland) tomorrow."
On Saturday's performance, Wales captain Alun-Wyn Jones said: "It probably looked as if we were under more pressure than we actually felt out there.
"We were a bit ragged at times, but we showed ambition and a will to play.
"We showed ambition, and at times you get mistakes, but that was a big potential banana skin, if you like, to get out of the way.
"We were acutely aware of the performances Italy put in last year, hence the realisation of how difficult this was going to be today."
Italy captain Sergio Parisse praised the Azzurri's back division after they competed strongly with Wales' much-vaunted three-quarters.
Campagnaro proved the star performer but there were also strong displays from the likes of wing Leonardo Sarto and fly-half Tommaso Allan.
"As a captain, I am very proud of what the youngsters achieved today," said Parisse, who delivered one of his trademark world-class performances.
"They were facing some of the most talented backs on the international stage, but they showed they can compete at this level.
"Before this match against Wales we were worried about our young backs because we conceded a lot of tries in the November Tests.
"I think we are happy for the performance but obviously, a loss is a loss so we are not happy about the result.
"I said to the guys 'we musn't just think we've played a good game (against Wales) and in France next week it's going to be easier'.
"In France, it's going to be 30 times more difficult. We must keep working and building in this tournament."
Italy coach Jacques Brunel added: "We are lucky to have so many good young backs. Our average today was around 22 years old. They must take confidence from this if they want to be part of the 2015 World Cup.
"We are obviously happy with the way the forwards performed today, they had some 600 caps between them.
"I would like to underline their performance, even if there were some misunderstandings in managing the scrum from the referee."