North hat-trick gives Welsh hope of Six Nations glory

Wales' George North runs in to score his second and his side's fourth try
Wales' George North runs in to score his second and his side's fourth try

George North scored a hat-trick of tries in 11 minutes as Wales destroyed Italy with a remarkable second-half points blitz to keep alive their RBS 6 Nations title hopes.

Wales went from 14-13 ahead at half-time to secure a record 61-20 Six Nations win in Rome - and Northampton Saints ace North proved their attacking destroyer.

The Northampton wing powered over for a treble, while his fellow wing Liam Williams also touched down, as did scrum-half Rhys Webb, centre Jamie Roberts, skipper Sam Warburton and replacement Scott Williams.

Full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties before going off injured, but fly-half Dan Biggar proved a capable deputy, slotting a penalty and six conversions as Wales scored 47 second-half points.

Italy scored an early Giovambattista Venditti try and a late Leonardo Sarto touchdown, with Kelly Haimona kicking a penalty and substitute Luciano Orquera adding a penalty and two conversions, but the Azzurri were ultimately horribly outclassed.

Wales took over the Six Nations leadership, and threw down a huge challenge to title rivals England and Ireland as they also raced clear in terms of points difference, raising hopes of securing a third Six Nations title in four years.

Wales now have a 20-point advantage over Ireland and 16 over England, who both play later. It leaves the winner of the Six Nations still up in the air.