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Wales storm into 42-13 second half lead

A hat-trick of second half tries from George North has put Wales into a 42-13 lead over Italy after 60 minutes.

George North has been unstoppable for Wales. Credit: PA

The Welsh needed a penalty at the death in the first half to go into the interval 14-13 ahead, but their Italian counterparts have capitulated in the second period.

As things stand, Warren Gatland's side are four points ahead of England in the fight for the Six Nations title.

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Wales lead Italy 14-13 at Stadio Olympico

Wales fans lit up Italy's Stadio Olympico. Credit: PA

Wales' Six Nations title hopes hung by a thread at half-time in Rome as underdogs Italy pushed Sam Warburton's men all the way.

Wing Giovambattista Venditti's 25th-minute try gave Italy the edge until just before the break. Kelly Haimona kicked a penalty before going off injured, while his replacement Luciano Orquera landed a conversion and penalty.

Wales created a try for centre Jamie Roberts, and full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties, but a groggy Halfpenny departed the action six minutes before half-time and the visitors had it all to do in pursuit of title rivals England and Ireland, despite Dan Biggar's injury-time strike edging them ahead.

Warren Gatland demands 40 point victory over Italy

Warren Gatland believes Wales must beat Italy by 40 points to give themselves a realistic chance of clinching this year's Six Nations title.

Gatland knows his team are outsiders for this year's title. Credit: PA

The Welsh are level on points with Ireland and England ahead of today's final matches, but Gatland's side must make up a 25 point difference to the English and four point difference to Ireland if both of their rivals secure victories.

"To give ourselves a realistic chance of winning [the Six Nations]," Gatland told the BBC. "We need to win by 40 and anything more than that will be a bonus."

He made two enforced changes from the team that ended Ireland's Grand Slam hopes in Cardiff last Saturday, with props Gethin Jenkins (hamstring) and Samson Lee (Achilles) both out injured and replaced by Rob Evans and Aaron Jarvis, respectively.

Italy, meanwhile, went into battle without their captain and number eight Sergio Parisse, who was absent due to a foot injury. Veteran flanker Mauro Bergamasco featured in a reshuffled back-row, with Leicester hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini taking over as skipper.

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6 Nations: Italy 0-29 France

France recovered from back-to-back RBS 6 Nations defeats to condemn sorry Italy to a 29-0 defeat in Rome on Sunday.

Les Bleus arrived at the Stadio Olimpico licking their wounds after a 20-13 home loss to Wales that had followed an 18-11 reverse at Ireland but made partial amends by beating the Azzurri in the Italian capital for the first time since 2009.

Italy trailed 12-0 early in the second half with the visitors converting four penalties from Scott Spedding, Camille Lopez (twice) and Jules Plisson.

Toulouse lock Yoann Maestri scored the first try of the game in the 47th minute, before Plisson added the extras and a penalty to nudge the visitors further in front.

Replacement centre Mathie Bastareaud scored a try in injury time to wrap up the convincing win and send the French into their final match against England at Twickenham in a much better mood.

Ireland's Sexton passed fit for Wales showdown

Sexton is passed fit for the match with Wales. Credit: PA

Johnny Sexton has been passed fit for Ireland's pivotal RBS 6 Nations clash against Wales in Cardiff on Saturday.

Assistant coach Richie Murphy confirmed that Ireland's lynchpin fly-half trained fully on Tuesday, after recovering from hamstring trouble.

Murphy said Ireland now have "a full deck to pick from" with Jamie Heaslip, Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne all cleared to face Wales this weekend.

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