Wales produced a thrilling second-half performance and scored 47 second-half points to thrash Italy by a record 61-20 victory on a sunny afternoon in Rome. The Six Nations race was blown wide open and the Red Dragons kept their hopes until the England v France match at Twickenham, and Scotland v Ireland encounter at Murrayfield.

Wales started the match in third position in the table.  They conceded a penalty in the opening minute and fly-half Kelly Haimona converted to give Italy a 3-0 lead.  Leigh Halfpenny then scored a brace of penalties for the Red Dragons, which were matched by Luciano Orquera’s conversion, to level the contest at 6-6.

Jamie Roberts was then the first try-scorer for the visitors, but the Italians quickly replied through Giovanbattista Venditti’s try, which Orquera converted, to give the host a 13-11 lead. 

Unfortunately, Halfpenny was taken off the pitch in the 34th minute and was being treated for concussion, after his head was caught by Samuela Vunisa’s knee. Fly-half Dan Biggar then kicked a penalty for the Red Dragons, for their 14-13 lead at the end of the first half.

Wales came back from the interval as a reformed team; Liam Williams was getting the ball rolling when he touched down in the 48th minute and Biggar converted for a 21-13. Two minutes later, winger George North scored his first try, also converted by Biggar. From then on, it was all one way traffic, as Italy were unable to cope with the intensity of Wales’ attacks. North scored his second converted try in the 55th minute, and then concluded his hat-trick of tries within the next four minutes, which was followed by scores for Rhys Webb, Sam Warburton and Scott Williams. Biggar contributed with 15 points in an exceptional kicking performance after the interval, as the Red Dragons went on to achieve a record 61-13 margin, one minute before the whistle.

But Leonardo Sarto then sprinted down the touchline in the last-minute to reduce the Italians’ deficit to 41 points. The visitors’ supporters gave their team an ovation and hoped the Red Dragons had done enough to hold off England and Ireland, as they both require comprehensive victories. But this was not to be, as they finish the tournament in third place on points’ difference. #Rugby