Walesproduced a thrilling second-half performance and scored 47 second-half pointsto thrash Italy by a record 61-20 victory on a sunny afternoon in Rome. TheSix Nations race was blown wide open and the Red Dragons kept their hopesuntil the England v France match at Twickenham, and Scotland v Ireland encounterat Murrayfield.

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

JamieRoberts was then the first try-scorer for the visitors, but the Italiansquickly replied through GiovanbattistaVenditti’stry, which Orquera converted, to give the host a 13-11 lead. 

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

Walescame back from the interval as a reformed team; Liam Williams was getting theball rolling when he touched down in the 48th minute and Biggarconverted for a 21-13. Two minutes later, winger George North scoredhis first try, also converted by Biggar.

From then on, it was all one waytraffic, as Italy were unable to cope with the intensity of Wales’ attacks. North scored his second converted try in the55th minute, and then concluded his hat-trick of tries within thenext four minutes, which was followed by scores for Rhys Webb, Sam Warburton andScott Williams. Biggar contributed with15 points in an exceptional kicking performance after the interval, as the RedDragons went on to achieve a record 61-13 margin, one minute before the whistle.

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