We look ahead to Saturday’s 2024 Guinness Men’s Six Nations match at the Principality Stadium, Cardiff with our Wales vs Italy prediction and preview.

Ahead of this year’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations, even the most optimistic of Welsh fans might have looked at their Round 5 clash with Italy with slight trepidation, wondering whether this might turn out to be the Wooden Spoon decider. What Wales fans might not have expected though, is that a win alone in this fixture might not be quite enough to avoid picking up the unwanted accolade for just the second time, with Italy sitting four points ahead in the standings thanks to a win and a draw in their last couple of fixtures.

Even home advantage isn’t guaranteed to help Warren Gatland’s side, given that the Azzurri recorded their first-ever victory in Cardiff the last time they travelled to Wales in the Championship. That’s on top of the fact that Wales are enduring their worst-ever home run in Five or Six Nations history (lost their last six).

Wales 6

However, Welsh teams have often thrived in the face of adversity and they’ve shown in patches what they are capable of in this year’s Six Nations. Perhaps they will end the Championship with a flourish and pull together the 80-minute performance that has so far eluded this young, but talented squad.


Italy and Wales haven’t shied their defensive duties this tournament, ranking first and second respectively for tackles made in the Championship this year (Italy – 756, Wales – 626). Italy have found some bite in their defensive hits too, with only Scotland (50) making more dominant tackles than the Azzurri (43), who have also won the most turnovers of any nation (24).

Although they’ve not seen a great deal of the ball, Wales have been careful with the possession they have had, conceding just 46 turnovers across the first four rounds, a tally only Ireland (40) have bettered this campaign.


Much has been made of the Welsh physicality… or lack of it. It’s probably not a surprise given the age profile of this squad – few players are Test hardened so early into their professional careers.

However, a lack of physicality has certainly been detrimental to their performances. Despite making the second most tackles, no side has made fewer dominant hits than Wales this year (22). With ball in hand, they’ve recorded the lowest gainline success rate in the tournament (40%).

Any team will struggle over the course of 80 minutes if they’re unable to win the physical battle in both attack and defence.

The set-piece could be an area of importance on Saturday, with Wales and Italy both struggling at the scrum and lineout this year, recording the two lowest success rates. Wales have the worst rate at the scrum (80%, Italy 82%), while the Azzurri rank sixth at the lineout (79%, Wales 81%).

Both sides will need to improve in this area to give them the opportunity to launch attacks from – something they’re both more than capable of if they have a steady platform to build off.

Standout Players

It’s usually a safe assumption to say that a flanker will be one of Wales’ standout players, given the level of talent that has played there throughout Six Nations history. Tommy Reffell is the latest in a long line of world class No. 7s to wear the red shirt in the Championship.

So far this year he has won eight turnovers – an average of two per game – and should he win another two he would join a small list of players to have reached double figures in an edition of the Six Nations, while three would equal the record set by John Barclay. No side has seen fewer turnovers won against them this year than Italy (13, level with Ireland), so the Leicester Tiger may not have it all his own way.

Turnovers won in a single Six Nations

Speaking of turnovers, Italy’s Tommaso Menoncello has also been impressive at winning the ball for his side. He’s won four so far this year, the most of any back. It has been an impressive tournament for the Italian centre who is still only 21 years old.

Menoncello been a great outlet for Italy with ball in hand too – of backs to make 20+ carries in the Championship this year, Menoncello boasts the best gainline success rate (75%) as well as the third best rate of committing two or more tacklers, doing so on 64% of his carries, while he’s one of just five players to have dominated the collision on at least half of his carries (50%).

Lastly, a word on George North who just this week announced that this weekend’s match will be his final game for Wales. It would be fitting if the winger-turned-centre could cap his last match with a try, given he’s one away from his 50th in Test rugby. He’s also three tries away from equalling Brian O’Driscoll’s Six Nations try-scoring record (26, currently 23). He couldn’t, could he?

North has nine tries against Italy in the Championship, the joint most by any player against a single team in the Six Nations, alongside Shane Williams who has scored nine against both Italy and Scotland.

Six Nations Tries Against A Single Opponent

Wales vs Italy Prediction

The Opta supercomputer makes Wales strong favourites ahead of kick-off at the Principality Stadium, giving them a 69.2% chance of winning.

Wales vs Italy Prediction Six Nations Opta

Wales vs Italy Lineups

In Welsh team news, George North has been recalled to Wales’ midfield for what will be his final international. Nick Tompkins is also back in the Wales Six Nations squad, after the experienced duo were dropped for last weekend’s defeat to France.

Wales: Cameron Winnett, Josh Adams, George North, Nick Tompkins, Rio Dyer, Sam Costelow, Tomos Williams; Gareth Thomas, Elliot Dee, Dillon Lewis, Dafydd Jenkins (captain), Adam Beard, Alex Mann, Tommy Reffell, Aaron Wainwright

ReplacementsEvan Lloyd, Kemsley Mathias, Dillon Harri O’Connor, Will Rowlands, Mackenzie Martin, Kieran Hardy, Ioan Lloyd, Mason Grady

Italy head coach Gonzalo Quesada has made three changes to his starting XV to play Wales in the final round of the Six Nations.

Full back Ange Capuozzo is out injured with a fractured finger and so Lorenzo Pani starts. Scrum-half Stephen Varney is also back in the squad.

Italy: Lorenzo Pani; Louis Lynagh, Juan Ignacio Brex, Tommaso Menoncello, Montanna Ioane, Paolo Garbisi, Stephen Varney; Danilo Fischetti, Giacomo Nicotera, Simone Ferrari, Niccolo Cannone, Federico Ruzza, Sebastian Negri, Michele Lamaro, Lorenzo Cannone

Replacements: Gianmarco Lucchesi, Mirco Spagnolo, Giosue Zilocchi, Andrea Zambonin, Ross Vintcent, Manuel Zuliani, Martin Page-Relo, Leonardo Marin.

Other Six Nations Round 5 Fixtures:

Ireland vs Scotland – Aviva Stadium, Dublin – Saturday 16 March, 16:45 GMT

France vs England – Groupama Stadium, Lyon – Saturday 16 March, 20:00 GMT

Enjoy this? Subscribe to our mailing list to receive exclusive weekly content. And follow us on X too.