WALES ran in five tries to start the defence of their Six Nations title with a bonus point, yet it was making Italy's trip to Cardiff a pointless one that would have had their new coach from Gwent beaming.

Plenty has been said about the size of the task facing Wayne Pivac after replacing Warren Gatland at the helm. Byron Hayward is filling boots that are just as big.

Shaun Edwards was given plenty of praise, deserved praise, for his exploits in turning Wales into defensive leaders.

The Wiganer loved to top the Six Nations defence table and Hayward, with the assistance of Sam Warburton, made the perfect start to his bid to do likewise.

Cut out the results page from the back of the Argus Sport supplement and file it away, Bryon. Italy 0.

There is no chance of Hayward enjoying another big fat zero in Dublin but this was a moment for the 50-year-old from Blaina, who played for Abertillery, Ebbw Vale, Newbridge, Newport and Pontypool, to cherish.

The Azzurri are hardly the slickest outfit and weren't able to exploit any Welsh slips – the visitors still made three clean line breaks – but Wales defended their line successfully in their first proper outing under Hayward.

Just like the Welsh attack hasn't been ripped up, it has just been a bit of tinkering in defence.

With time Hayward will get more snap and understanding of his ways – and 20 missed tackles means there is plenty of room for improvement – but this was a fine starting point.

South Wales Argus:

"Byron is working very, very hard like all the coaches are. He is working with the boys individually as well as collectively to make sure they understand their roles," said Pivac.

"We are doing a lot of work on decision-making and I am sure when we review the game there will be times when we didn't make the best of decisions.

"There is plenty to work on but I am very pleased for Byron because he is a guy that is working away in the background at his craft and doing a pretty good job."

This was a first outing under a new regime but a desire to play more expansive rugby had to be married with pragmatism.

The right boot of Dan Biggar built a 9-0 lead and then the first of three Josh Adams scores left the Italians chasing the game.

The winger's second pretty much ended the contest and contributed to Hayward's 0 – there was little point in Italy kicking penalties when down by 21.

South Wales Argus:

The Azzurri failed to muscle their way over from a pair of driving lineouts at the end of the first half and Wales' started the second sluggishly.

But once again their defence held firm and it was a case of chasing the bonus once Saracens centre Nick Tompkins, whose impressive performance puts pressure on George North for the 13 jersey, went over for a debut try.

Wales went perilously close to only recording a four-point haul but North crashed over with four minutes left, followed by Adams in injury time.

The Scarlets' style under Pivac has led to great excitement about the national team being more expansive but this is Test rugby and, as Edwards used to state, it is defence that wins championships.

Wales were clearly more reluctant to put boot to ball against Italy but it could be a different story at the Aviva Stadium.

"Byron has had a few plaudits and this just puts the pressure on for the next one," said the captain.

"He has probably had the hardest shoes to fill and we've got to keep doing that. Ultimately this was the end of the start, and it was a positive one."

A positive start and one that gives Pivac, Hayward and Co plenty to ponder for Dublin.

If they tinker with a winning team then it is 13 that is the biggest call given the performance of specialist centre Tompkins and the cunning of Jonathan Sexton.

Including the Saracen could lead to a return to the wing for George North, although that would be harsh on Johnny McNicholl. Key to Pivac's Scarlets, he deserves a run in the side.

Three Dragons on the bench would love a promotion but perhaps prop Leon Brown, lock Cory Hill and back rower Ross Moriarty did too good a job in adding energy.

Nice problems for Pivac to have ahead of his first real test in the hotseat.

Wales: L Halfpenny, J McNicholl (N Tompkins 10-21), G North, H Parkes (N Tompkins 52), J Adams, D Biggar (J Evans 68), T Williams (R Webb 60), W Jones (R Evans 55), K Owens (R Elias 62), D Lewis (L Brown 60), J Ball (C Hill 55), AW Jones (captain), A Wainwright, J Tipuric, T Faletau (R Moriarty 52).

Scorers: tries – J Adams (3), N Tompkins, G North; conversions – D Biggar (2), L Halfpenny (2); penalties – D Biggar (3)

Italy: M Minozzi, L Sarto, L Morisi, C Canna, M Bellini, T Allan, C Braley, A Lovotti, L Bigi (captain), G Zilocchi, A Zanni, N Cannone, J Polledri, S Negri, B Steyn.

Replacements: F Zani, D Fischetti, M Riccioni, D Budd, M Lazzaroni, G Licata, G Palazzani, J Hayward.

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

Attendance: 68,582