George North takes centre stage on return as Wales thrash Italy

Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe

The win moves Wales up to second in the table on 11 points, eight behind Ireland, who clinched the Six Nations title Saturday with a 28-8 bonus point win over Scotland.

Tries by Man of the Match Hadleigh Parkes, George North (2), Corey Hill and Justin Tipuric, and nine points from the boot of Gareth Anscombe and four points from Leigh Halfpenny, saw Wales pick up a bonus point against a spirited but limited Italian team.

Wing George North - back in action following a recent hard time at his club Northampton - set the tone with a try double, while centre Hadleigh Parkes, lock Cory Hill and flanker Justin Tipuric also crossed. First, centre Parkes burst through the Italian defence to touch down from close range before his midfield partner, Owen Watkin, picked off a stray Maxime Mbanda pass and surged clear before feeding the towering winger North to stroll over.

From there, Italy dominated for large spells but had only a Matteo Minozzi try to show for their efforts until a Mattia Bellini try with just four minutes left.

After the frantic opening, some semblance of calm ensued and after Gareth Anscombe kicked a penalty for a 17-7 lead, Williams received a yellow card for risky contact on Minozzi on the stroke of halftime. Tommy Allan's conversion made it 14-7 after 10 minutes.

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Wales could not re-establish initial momentum, and they were content to increase their advantage through a 35th-minute Anscombe penalty.

But three minutes into the second half there were cheers as Wales lock Cory Hill scored his first Test try. An intriguing half ended with Williams sent to the sin-bin in stoppage time for a unsafe tackle on Minozzi.

That extra point was finally secured with 14 minutes to go as Patchell passed out of contact to give North his second score of the contest.

This was despite Wales being reduced to 13 men at one stage after fullback Liam Williams and scrum-half Gareth Davies both received yellow cards either side of half-time.

And Tipuric confirmed an emphatic success as defensive gaps inevitably began to open, before Italy claimed a consolation try when Bellini was freed on an overlap.

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