Italy vs Wales match report: George North scores incredible 10-minute hat-trick as Welsh put themselves out in front

Italy 20 Wales 61: But late Sarto try could prove pivotal in championship picture

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The Independent Online

History for Wales but not the title after a performance in Rome that managed to both dazzle and frustrate. George North helped himself to the first Welsh hat-trick in the Championship for 46 years during the most devastating 40-minute display witnessed in the tournament.

Wales ran in eight tries with an attacking swansong worthy of winning the title and, for a couple of hours, it looked as though it would.  Yet by the unique scenario on the final day, Leonardo Sarto’s breakaway try in the final minute muted Welsh celebrations and left the door ajar for their title rivals.

Worst still, it came just seconds after Gareth Davies fumbled an interception that could well have put the title race beyond doubt.

Wales head coach Warren Gatland said: “It was a good performance apart from that last two minutes. I wasn’t happy about conceding that late try. Gareth could’ve gone over and we weren’t accurate at a scrum and Italy have gone the length of the field to score. Championships can be decided on these small margins.”

Captain Sam Warburton said: “I won’t look back at the second half against England, it was not stopping Scotland in the last play of the game at Murrayfield and the try we conceded at the end to Italy; they will bother me more.”

Italy sing the national anthem ahead of kick-off

Jamie Roberts carries the ball for Wales

Wales may not have won the title but could bask in a phenomenal attacking display. Only once – England in 2001 – has a team scored more points in a Championship game.

A length of the field try, finished by Scott Williams, was breathtaking while Liam Williams, Rhys Webb, Warburton and Jamie Roberts joined North on the score-sheet. It was all the more remarkable given how sloppy they were in the first half.  Whatever Gatland said at half-time could be bottled and sold for a fortune.

Liam Williams scores for Wales

Italy: L McLean; L Sarto, L Morisi (E Bacchin, 73), A Masi, G Venditti; K Haimona (L Orquera, 5), E Gori (G Palazzani, 74); M Rizzo (A Di Marchi, 51), L Ghiraldini (capt, A Manici, 51), M Castrogiovanni (D Chistolini, 51), G Biagi (Q Geldenhuys, 50), J Furno (R Barbieri, 61), F Minto (S Vunisa, 64), M Bergamasco.

Wales:  L Halfpenny (S Williams, 35); G North, J Davies, J Roberts, L Williams (R Priestland, 71); D Biggar, R Webb (G Davies, 71); R Evans (R Gill, 52), S Baldwin (K Owens, 56), A Jarvis (S Andrews, 74), L Charteris (J Ball, 74), AW Jones, D Lydiate (J Tipuric, 56), S Warburton (capt), T Faletau.

Referee: C Pollock (NZ).