As it happened: Six Nations Super Saturday

Updated: Saturday, 16 Mar 2013 22:10

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Relive Ireland's defeat to Italy, Wales' win over England, and France's victory over Scotland, with our live text commentary.

By Tadhg Peavoy

RESULT: Italy 22-15 Ireland

RESULT: Wales 30-3 England. Wales win the RBS 6 Nations title on points difference from England.

RESULT: France 23-16 Scotland

Comments, thoughts and tweets welcome at @RTEsport and sportonline@rte.ie

21:52

That draws the championship to a close. A report on France's victory over Scotland will follow on the site shortly.

Thank you for your company for the last few months. It's been a sobering two months for Irish rugby, but where there is life there is hope. As Emily Dickinson wrote:

Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul
And sings the tune without the words
And never stops at all

The Ireland team will tend their wounds and douse their hearts with hope, and they will come again.

See y'after.

21:50

That Visser try was the last score of the game as France secure the win but fail to win by 16 points and are awarded their first Wooden Spoon since 1999.

21:43

75 mins: TRY - SCOTLAND - VISSER

Scott makes a line break and feeds inside to the onrushing Visser. He collects the ball and crosses the line. Laidlaw converts.

France 23-16 Scotland

21:40

74 mins: Michalak is given a standing ovation and the crowd chant his name as he is brought from the field with what looks like a broken arm. Trinh-Duc is on for him.

21:35

71 mins: TRY & CONVERSION - FRANCE - MEDARD & MACHENAUD

Machenaud makes a line break for France and offloads to Medard on his shoulder. The winger hits the ball at pace and speeds across the whitewash for a try. Machenaud slots the conversion from in front of the posts.

France 23-9 Scotland

21:29

65 mins: TRY & CONVERSION - FRANCE - FOFANA & MICHALAK

France break again with Huget and Fofana. Scotland's excellent defence again stops France. Clerc goes up the right wing and sets the ruck. From that play Bastareaud picks and goes before Nyanga pops outside to Fofana on the wing. The centre hadns off Hogg en route to crossing the Scotland line for the game's first try.

Michalak converts for France.

France 16-9 Scotland

21:26

63 mins: France's replacement hooker Guirado bashes his way to the line and is stopped. France come again and Debaty breaks the line and just needs to pop outside him to Clerc and take Hogg out of the play, but instead he runs straight into Hogg and Scotland win a penalty as France kill the ball at the ruck.

21:24

61 mins: Weir clears long to touch as a very average game continues to lack much inspiration. France need to gain a 16-point lead in the next 19 minutes to avoid the Wooden Spoon.

21:19

58 mins: PENALTY - LAIDLAW - SCOTLAND

Scrum France: they win and Picamoles picks and goes. At the next phase France concede a penalty in their own half and Laidlaw knocks it between the sticks to level the scores.

France 9-9 Scotland

21:13

51 mins: PENALTY - FRANCE - MICHALAK

France win a further penalty and Michalk slots it between the sticks. Scotland go behind for the first time in the game.

France 9-6 Scotland

21:10

50 mins: France pull Scotland left and right and the Dark Blues hold firm in defence. A crossfield kick from Michalak to Medard doesn't come off and then a kick ahead for Fofana to chase doesn't come off. But play is brought back for a penalty France as Scotland are caught offside. Michalak, from left of the sticks, inside the 22, nails the kick.

France 6-6 Scotland

21:07

45 mins: PENALTY - FRANCE- MICHALAK

Scotland are done for standing up in that scrum and France win a penalty. Michalak goes for goal from right of the sticks on the 22. He kicks it well and through the sticks.

France 3-6 Scotland

21:03

43 mins: France back in possession and Fofana dances at Scotland, before play is booted back to the Dark Blues. But off the ball Michalak and Hogg have clashed and Michalak punches the fullback in the face twice. That should be a red card for Michalak. But Owens lets it go. The ref gives France a scrum as they were the attacking team and Owens couldn't see the fracas.

21:02

42 mins: Scotland win another penalty as France once more infringe at the breakdown. Just so much indiscipline in the France side.

21:00

41 mins: Action is back underway in Paris with Machenaud on the field for Parra.

20:51

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>.@<a href="https://twitter.com/scotlandteam">scotlandteam</a> @<a href="https://twitter.com/stuartwhogg_15">stuartwhogg_15</a> has made 53 metres in the first half in Paris. 37 more than any of his teammates. <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23AccentureRugby">#AccentureRugby</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%236Nations">#6Nations</a></p>&mdash; Accenture Rugby (@AccentureRugby) <a href="https://twitter.com/AccentureRugby/status/313029630175084544">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>

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20:50

HALF-TIME: FRANCE 0-6 SCOTLAND.

20:46

40 mins: Scrum France in their own half. They win it and Michalak once more opts to kick possession away. Hogg misses touch and Huget runs it back into contact. Medard carries twice. Maestri makes a charge and brings France into the Scotland half. However, France fail to recycle the ball and are done for holding on at the ruck. The ball is booted to touch for half-time. The France fans boo their side as they walk from the Stade de France field. France are currently 40 minutes from the Wooden Spoon.

20:44

39 mins: France hand possession back to Scotland and Evans breaks the France line before trying to chip over Huget and collect. The kick goes dead.

20:42

37 mins: Hogg burst into the line and attacks France before Lamont takes a crash ball in the centre. Laidlaw feeds his side as they edge their way forward. Laidlaw then opts to pop a kick into the France corner.

20:39

36 mins: France boot possession long to touch. Five minutes from half-time and France are firmly on course for the Wooden Spoon.

20:36

32 mins: From the ensuing scrum Scotland clear downfield and win back possession as France knock on through Huget.

20:35

31 mins: Evans is on for Maitland. Superb moment in the build up to Fofana's first attack a few minutes ago as he volleyed the crossfield kick to keep it in play. Special.

20:31

29 mins: After defending for six minutes, Scotland win a penalty and Weir smashes the kick to touch. The Scots win their own lineout and Weir boots deep to France. The French set the ruck and then spread wide to Michalak who kicks wide right to Fofana to claim and cut back inside. He is stopped short of the line. France recycle twice then move it back outside to Fofana on the wing where he knocks on.

20:25

26 mins: Apologies for the break in coverage. More tech problems. In the interevening period France have been battering away at Scotland with Clerc and Bastareaud bringing France into the Scotland 22, where they have won a scrum.

20:24

22 mins: France get the shove on at the second scrum before Picamoles picks from the base and is stopped on the line. France then maul it over the line and go to ground. Nigel Owens says France were held up by Scotland and awards a five-metre scrum.

20:22

22 mins: Scotland's front row is penalised at the scrum. France opt to scrum again.

20:19

20 mins: Scrum Scotland on their own 10-metre line. They win it and Weir launches an up-and-under. Medard counters with ball-in-hand and Brown steals the ball at the next ruck illegally. Michalak decides to kick for the corner, but misses it. However, Scotland knock on as they try to play the ball out of their own 22. Scrum France on the Scotland five-metre line.

20:18

18 mins: Scotland back in possession and then Weir boots it back to France. Neither side inspiring here with ball-in-hand.

20:16

16 mins: Scotland rob France of possession in midfield as Michalak knocks on under no pressure. Laidlaw boots to the corner. France win their lineout and Parra boots long to touch off Hamilton's hand.

20:12

13 mins: PENALTY - LAIDLAW - SCOTLAND

Scotland win a penalty in their own half as France come over the top at a ruck. Weir boots to touch and Scotland win the lineout. But the ref awards a penalty for the Scots as Maestri takes out Hamilton in the air. Brown tells Laidlaw to go for the sticks. From the France 10-metre line, Laidlaw smashes the ball between the sticks. Scotland double their lead.

France 0-6 Scotland

20:09

10 mins: Another scrum for France in the Scotland half. And this time it sets and France use Bastareaud on a crash ball. But Michalak then loses possession and spills the ball forward. Freddie again not starting a tie well.

20:05

7 mins: PENALTY - SCOTLAND - LAIDLAW

Scotland back in possession and attacking up the left wing. Kelly Brown picks and goes, followed by Strokosch. Scotland recycle well as they go at the French. France fail to roll away and referee Nigel Owens says penalty Scotland. Laidlaw slots the penalty between the sticks from the 22. Scotland lead.

France 3-0 Scotland

20:04

6 mins: Scotland win a scrum of their own deep in the France half. They hit and the scrum settles, but then collapses. Another penalty for France.

20:02

3 mins: France devour Scotland in the scrum and they break down the right wing where Clerc is hammered into touch.

20:01

1 min: Play is off in Paris. A wet and rainy night in the French capital and there's an early scrum for France.

19:51

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>If you backed Ireland to win the Wooden Spoon prior to the England game they were 125-1. They're 4-6 now. <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23rterugby">#rterugby</a></p>&mdash; Tadhg Peavoy (@TPeavoy) <a href="https://twitter.com/TPeavoy/status/313017081132089344">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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19:47

Right, so France are on a mission to avoid their first Wooden Spoon since 1998. If Les Bleus lose or draw they get it. If France win by 17 points then Ireland get the Wooden Spoon for the first time since 1998.

19:11

France v Scotland at 8pm. Text commentary to follow.

18:53

Man-of-the-match Alex Cuthbert: "It's un-describable to be fair. It's all just worked out."

Wales interim head coach Rob Howley: "They were outstanding. This is better than the Grand Slam last year - to recover from that opening 40 minutes against Ireland.

"The players have gone out and delivered.

"England had a six-day turnaround and we wanted to take advantage of that."

18:50

Ryan Jones and Gethin Jenkins jointly lift the RBS 6 Nations trophy as fireworks explode and Florence and the Machine rings out around the Millennium Stadium.

18:47

Right, a report on Wales' victory over England will follow shortly. While at 8pm, we'll bring you score updates from the championship's final game between France at Scotland.

18:47

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Wales... Intensity was utterly awesome... Roberts was magnificent... England boys couldn't cope... Tough day at office... Tipuric huge..</p>&mdash; Will Greenwood (@GreenwoodRugby) <a href="https://twitter.com/GreenwoodRugby/status/312998534045630464">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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18:45

Wales' championship victory of course comes on points difference from England. Wales' points difference was +56, England's was +16. No contest there.

18:44

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Tipuric Man of match. Could have been any if back-row, Philips big game, Cuthbert of course.That first half against Ire a long way off</p>&mdash; Mick Cleary (@MickClearyTel) <a href="https://twitter.com/MickClearyTel/status/312997730857385985">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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18:44

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Overused word but truly great performance by Wales. 30-3 down against Ireland. 30-3 win to take the title. Deserved champions.</p>&mdash; Andrew Cotter (@MrAndrewCotter) <a href="https://twitter.com/MrAndrewCotter/status/312997768044085248">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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18:44

FULL-TIME: WALES 30-3 ENGLAND

WALES WIN THE RBS 6 NATIONS TITLE.

THAT IS WALES' 26th CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE. THEY ARE NOW JOINT TOP OF THE ALL-TIME CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE WITH ENGLAND.

18:42

FULL-TIME: WALES 30-3 ENGLAND

WALES WIN THE RBS 6 NATIONS TITLE.

THAT IS WALES' 26th CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE. THEY ARE NOW JOINT TOP OF THE ALL-TIME CHAMPIONSHIP TABLE WITH ENGLAND.

18:40

80 mins: Wales look for one last score with a chip and chase from North, but England steal and break up the left wing with Parling. The ball is recycled but England then spill it and the attack ends. That's the last action of the tie. Wales have won the RBS 6 Nations Championship.

18:33

79 mins: Excuse the lack of coverage for the last five minutes. We were having technical difficulties here in RTÉ.

No further scores in Cardiff yet.

18:32

74 mins: Adam Jones receives a standing ovation as he leaves the field of play for Andrews.

18:31

73 mins: Wales win another scrum in the middle of the park.

18:30

72 mins: England finally manage to make it into the England 22 and Flood is stopped just short of the line. England's Care kicks to the corner for Brown but the the kick is too high and goes dead for a 22 drop-out.

18:29

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>England's greatest ever comeback in a Test is 12 points (AUS in '02). Deficit here in Cardiff is 14 points. Time to make history <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23believe">#believe</a></p>&mdash; Official RFU (@Official_RFU) <a href="https://twitter.com/Official_RFU/status/312991460163219457">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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18:27

70 mins: PENALTY - WALES - BIGGAR

Wales win their own lineout jsut outside the England 22 and then England - once more - kill the ball a ruck. Referee Walsh indicates another penalty for Wales. From wide right, Biggar has no problem popping over the kick. Wales out of sight.

Wales 30-3 England

18:26

69 mins: England are punch drunk on the Cardiff turf and Wales are brimming with confidence. The Welsh win another penalty at the breakdown and Biggar again bashes to touch.

18:23

66 mins TRY & CONVERSION - WALES - CUTHBERT & HALFPENNY

Faletau sets a ruck and Warburton picks and breaks the England line up the middle of the park. He is brought down but Wales recycle and move wide left to Tipuric on the left, he has two tacklers ahead of him, draws them both, then pops outside to Curthbert to crash over for try number two. Halfpenny slots a brilliant conversion from wide right.

Wales 27-3 England

18:22

65 mins: DROP GOAL - WALES - BIGGAR

Wales recycle again, and with play on the England 22, Phillips feeds Biggar back in the pocket. The No 10 slots over a perfect drop goal.

Wales 20-3 England

18:21

64 mins: Wales win the lineout and maul hard with Adam Jones then breaking at England. They spin across the field and attack England down the left wing. Adam Jones carries again. North comes off his wing and his smashed by Farrell in contact.

18:20

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>England's greatest ever comeback in a Test is 12 points (AUS in '02). Deficit here in Cardiff is 14 points. Time to make history <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23believe">#believe</a></p>&mdash; Official RFU (@Official_RFU) <a href="https://twitter.com/Official_RFU/status/312991460163219457">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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18:20

63 mins: Cole is again penalised for collapsing. Penalty Wales. Biggar boots the penalty to touch deep in the England half.

18:19

63 mins: Paul James is on for Gethin Jenkins.

18:18

62 mins: England back in possession and attacks hard with Vunipola. However, he gets isolated and Wales win a penalty.

18:16

60 mins: England go to contact with Farrell and Faletau stops him with a strong tackle. But referee Walsh says it was a high tackle from the No 8. Farrell decides to go for goal. From wide left he pushes the ball to the right.

18:12

57 mins: TRY - WALES - CUTHBERT

Wales turn over possession in midfield and spread wide right off first phase. It reaches Cuthbert and he manages to avoid the clutches of Brown as he speeds down the wing and into the 22 and over the England tryline.

Halfpenny misses the conversion from the right touchline.

Wales 17-3 England

18:10

54 mins: England feed Tuilagi in the centre but the big man loses the ball and Halfpenny bashes the ball downfield. England bring the ball back to the contact area.

18:09

53 mins: England will surely get a chance to dominate this game at one point, the question is when? They win a lineout in the Wales half and Youngs makes a sniping run.

18:08

52 mins: PENALTY - WALES - HALFPENNY

From wide left, on the 22, Halfpenny slots the conversion with a superb kick. Wales stretch their lead.

Wales 12-3 England

18:08

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Great ball retention by Wales. Brilliant defence by England. This is one hell of a game</p>&mdash; Will Carling (@willcarling) <a href="https://twitter.com/willcarling/status/312988724579418112">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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18:07

51 mins: Wales spin wide to Davies at 2nd centre, he can't find a gap and Walsh calls play back for a penalty for Wales as England infringed at the breakdown.

18:05

49 mins: Wales pick-and-go right to the England line. But England hold firm. North then takes a crash ball, but is held out. Tipuric carries well but his body position is too high to cross the line. Roberts is fed by Phillips and crashes hard. 

18:04

48 mins: Wales win the lineout, set the ruck, then attack with Warburton and Adam Jones in the tight and Roberts in the backs. Hibbard carries to within five of the England line.

18:03

47 mins: Wales win the lineout and attack up the centre before Phillips feeds Roberts. Vunipola smashes Roberts and he loses possession. Youngs clears long and Halfpenny returns the kick. Goode tries a crossfield kick and puts it straight out.

18:02

46 mins: The scrum sets and again goes down. Another Wales penalty, which Biggar boots up the line.

18:01

45 mins: Mako Vunipola is on for Joe Marler in the front row for England.

17:59

43 mins: From the resulting scrum, Wales win another penalty as Cole is penalised once more. Biggar bashes the penalty to touch just inside halfway. England steal the lineout but then knock on.

17:58

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Camped in our OB truck watching events in Cardiff &amp; bracing ourselves to face the cold Paris night.. <a href="http://t.co/9oI95oG585" title="http://twitter.com/JillADouglas/status/312986178741751808/photo/1">twitter.com/JillADouglas/s…</a></p>&mdash; Jill Douglas (@JillADouglas) <a href="https://twitter.com/JillADouglas/status/312986178741751808">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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17:57

42 mins: Robshaw wins the lineout at two. The England pack maul it hard and reach the Wales 22. The English try to move the ball across the field to the centre but they lose the ball in the ruck.

17:55

41 mins: Biggar restarts to England, where the ball is bashed back to touch. Ping pong ensues as both teams bash it at each other. Finally Halfpenny makes a mistake as he slices into touch.

17:54

The teams are back out on the pitch in Cardiff. Battle to recommence.

17:53

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p><a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23maketwickenhamhome">#maketwickenhamhome</a> “@<a href="https://twitter.com/optajim">optajim</a>: 10 -Chris Ashton has now missed 10 tackles in this year's <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%236Nations">#6Nations</a>, three more than any other player.Alarm.”</p>&mdash; Michael Lee (@Rugblee) <a href="https://twitter.com/Rugblee/status/312985259505487874">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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17:45

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Alex Goode has made 97 metres in that first half, 47 metres more than the second highest @<a href="https://twitter.com/mikephillips009">mikephillips009</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23AccentureRugby">#AccentureRugby</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%236Nations">#6Nations</a></p>&mdash; Accenture Rugby (@AccentureRugby) <a href="https://twitter.com/AccentureRugby/status/312984713587470337">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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17:45

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>What a great game of Rugby. Great advert for rugby.</p>&mdash; Ben Cohen (@RugbyBenCohen) <a href="https://twitter.com/RugbyBenCohen/status/312982772144812032">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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17:44

HALF-TIME: WALES 9-3 ENGLAND

17:41

40 mins: A third scrum is set: a free-kick is awarded to Wales. Phillips taps and goes for Wales. Tipuric makes a carry, followed by Adam Jones. Wales edge into the England 22. The ball is passed back to Biggar for the drop goal. He misses by inches. That's the last action of a quite simply stunning half of rugby. End-to-end, full of passion and vigour. Another 40 minutes awaits.

17:40

39 mins: Scrum England in their own half. It collapses and will have to be reset. Again it goes down and must be reset.

17:39

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>You can't take your eyes off this game <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23100mph">#100mph</a></p>&mdash; Paul Morgan (@PaulMorganrugby) <a href="https://twitter.com/PaulMorganrugby/status/312981511269912576">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
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17:37

37 mins: Youngs tries a chip over and chase but Wales clear their lines. Farrell then aims a kick to the Wales corner, but fails to reach it. Cuthbert gets back, claims, turns and brings play back to contact. The ball is moved wide to North to cut back inside, which he does, before Farrell comes across to scythe him down.

17:36

36 mins: Farrell boots possession away from inside his own 22 as Wales fly up in defence and there will be a lineout for Wales. But they make a mess of it and Dan Cole collects the loose ball.

17:34

34 mins: From the England lineout Tuilagi takes a crash ball up the centre and before Farrell grubber kicks for the corner to Brown, the winger collects and tries to pass inside, but the pass is knocked down by Cuthbert and Wales clear their lines through Halfpenny.

17:30

29 mins: Wales steal possession back and kick long to touch. England win this lineout and Marler is smashed by Hibbard in the tackle. As England try to move the ball out the line it is intercepted by Biggar who passes to George North to steam out of his own half on the attack. Brown makes a tap tackle to prevent North going the length of the pitch. Farrell then boots to the Wales corner where they win a lineout and clear to touch just outside their own 22.

17:28

28 mins: Biggar clears Welsh lines, but fails to make touch and England go back to contact. Parling carries hard and well; however, from the ensuing ruck, Walsh says scrum Wales. But the scrum collapses and Walsh gives the penalty to England. Farrell smashes the penalty to touch in the Wales half.

17:27

26 mins: Farrell decides to go for goal from way out. From the Wales 10-metre line, wide left, he puts it just wide left, by a few inches. Great kick, unlucky.

17:25

25 mins: England go wide to Brown, who his smashed by Cuthbert in the tackle. But again Wales don't roll away and Walsh awards England a penalty.

17:22

20 mins: PENALTY - WALES- HALFPENNY

Wales win a penalty of their own wide right and Halfpenny will go for goal. From outside the 22, he nails his effort on target.

Wales 9-3 England

17:19

19 mins: PENALTY - ENGLAND - FARRELL

England attack up the centre with Barritt going to contact. Wales fail to contest the breakdown legally and Farrell smashes the resulting penalty at goal. The outhalf gets a slice of luck as the egg hits the post and bounces between the sticks.

Wales 6-3 England

17:17

17 mins: PENALTY - WALES - HALFPENNY

Wales attack back with Halfpenny and wins a penalty as England fail to roll away at the tackle. From just inside the England half, he bisects the posts.

Wales 6-0 England

17:15

15 mins: Wales again on the attack and Roberts crashes up the centre. There is a turnover from England and the ball is booted down Halfpenny's throat. Wales receive and bash it long at England. The ball bobbles into the Wales 22 and it is a 22 drop out for England.

17:12

13 mins: Wales win a penalty as England kill the ball at the ruck and Phillips makes a surging break for Wales. But England turn it over just a few phases later.

17:12

12 mins: Farrell restarts to England and Phillips claims. Wales set the ruck before Phillips boxkicks long to England.

17:10

10 mins: PENALTY - WALES - HALFPENNY

Halfpenny will kick for goal from wide right of the sticks on the 22-metre line. He nails it. Wales lead. 

Wales 3-0 England

17:08

8 mins: This time the scrum gets away and Wales go left then right with Halfpenny joining the line. England fail to roll away and Wales win the penalty.

17:07

7 mins: The scrum collapses and referee Walsh says free-kick to Wales for an incorrect feed from Youngs. Wales get the put in and again the scrum goes down.

17:06

7 mins: The scrum collapses and must be reset as Steve Walsh insists on a straight scrum being set.

17:05

5 mins: Biggar brings his centres into the game, but the ball goes forward. Scrum England on their own 22. 

17:03

2 mins: England's attack comes to nothing and Wales win an attack in the England half. The Welsh win and win well and Phillips breaks into the England 22. 

16:32

1 min: Action is underway in Cardiff in the championship decider. Wales attack early on as the ball is spun out the line, but the ball is lost to touch. England have a lineout deep in the Wales half.

16:30

Next up here is Wales v England in the championship decider in Cardiff. I'll be bringing you live text on that.

16:23

Italy were the better team today by a country mile and should have won this tie by far more. 

Ireland were destroyed by injuries and stretched all over the pitch.

But that said, Italy could only play the team that was put up against it, and they played them and beat them soundly.

The whole pack was bettered in the scrum, lineout and breakdown. The half-backs, after such a good display last week against France, was disappointing. In the centres, there just wasn't enough guile. And the back three saw little enough of the ball.

As I wrote last week, this championship has been about growth not victory for Ireland. Players have been blooded and this will benefit Ireland in the future. But for now, the question must be, is Declan Kidney the right man to bring Ireland to the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

A report on this match will follow on the site shortly.

16:23

FULL-TIME: ITALY 22-15 IRELAND

16:19

80 mins: PENALTY - ITALY - ORQUERA

Italy kick the penalty to touch and maul hard. The Ireland pack crumbles and Barnes says penalty Italy. Orquera slots the conversion, which is the last kick of the game. Italy record a first ever championship win over Ireland on a 22-15 scoreline.

16:16

79 mins: Jackson feeds wide to the centres, where O'Driscoll is closed down. Italy steal at the ensuing ruck and break up the left wing with Parisse. But Murray takes out a man off the ball and is sin binned. Ireland are cooked, stick a form in them.

16:15

78 mins: Ireland win the second scrum and put the ball through hands as they look for a Hail Mary score. Gilroy tries to dance past the Italy defence. No joy. 

16:14

77 mins: The scrum collapses and must be reset. Kilcoyne lost his bind.

16:14

77 mins: Italy attack with Parisse but his pass outside him goes forward and Ireland have the scrum. 

16:13

76 mins: More changes for Italy with Botes de Marchi and Giazzon all on for Gori, Ghiarldini and Cittadini.

16:12

75 mins: Kilcoyne is also now on for Ireland, with O'Mahony coming in off the wing and scrummaging. Ireland win the second scrum and Murray boots to touch.

16:12

74 mins: Scrum Ireland: it goes down and must be reset.

16:10

73 mins: Orquera puts the penalty into touch and Italy win the lineout and maul hard. Canale then takes a crash ball into the line with Minto then making a line break into the Ireland 22. But the ball goes forward: scrum Ireland in their own 22.

16:09

71 mins: Scrum Ireland in the Italy half and they are decimated by Italy. Ireland's seven-man scrum just couldn't handle the power of the Azzurri. Cronin is also on for Ireland now.

16:07

69 mins: PENALTY - ITALY - ORQUERA

The assistant referee has called Barnes over to the touchline to tell him that Ryan has committed a dangerous tackle. Barnes brandishes a yellow card and bins the lock. Straight after, Orquera kicks the resulting penalty at goal from the 22 and slots it. 

Italy 19-15 Ireland

16:06

69 mins: It was Pavanello that stole the lineout for Italy.

16:05

68 mins: Ireland kick back to Italy and they loose the ball into touch. But Italy steal Ireland's lineout at four. Canale launches an up-an-under at Ireland. But play is called back for an earlier Ireland infringement.

16:04

67 mins: Healy received attention after that scrum, but is okay. Garcia opts to kick the penalty at goal. From wide left, he pushes it wide right, and short. That miss could be crucial.

16:03

67 mins: Benvenuti is on for Masi for Italy.

Archer is on for Ross for Ireland.

16:02

67 mins: Derbyshire and Minto are on for Furno and Favaro.

16:02

66 mins: Italy win a penalty from the scrum as Healy is penalised. 

16:01

66 mins: Italy launch a high ball and Gori goes up for it. Toner and Gilroy take the scrumhalf out in the air accidentally and Gori comes down hard on his shoulder. Thankfully he is back on his feet. Italy scrum.

16:00

66 mins: Parisse is back on the pitch.

15:59

64 mins: Pavanello and Rizzo are on for Geldenhuys and Lo Cicero. That's the latter's last act in international rugby.

15:57

63 mins: PENALTY - IRELAND - JACKSON

Jackson decides he will take the points on offer and slots the penalty from in front of the sticks. It's a one-point game in Rome.

Italy 16-15 Ireland

15:55

62 mins: Healy picks and goes from the base of a ruck and is knocked back two metres. Madigan takes a crash ball up the centre. Ryan take a crash ball and gets to within a half metre of the Italy line. Referee Barnes says Italy are offside at the ruck. Penalty Ireland. 

15:54

60 mins: Ireland win and go through the recycles, Henderson pumps the legs with a strong attack. McCarthy plays winger and makes the Italy 22, before Ireland spin across the pitch to Healy to make a line break before being hauled down. Madigan passes inside to Gilroy joining the line, he brings Ireland to within five metres of the tryline. 

15:52

59 mins: Italy fail to throw the lineout straight and Ireland get the scrum put in. Ireland are recovering with Parisse in the sin bin. He will be back in two minutes.

15:51

58 mins: Ireland kick the restart back to Italy and they keep possession before Orquera boots long to Jackson. The No 10 lofts a very classy kick to touch for Ireland.

15:49

56 mins: PENALTY - IRELAND - JACKSON

Ireland boot possession long and Italy secure the ball and come back at Ireland again. But Canale holds on at a ruck and Ireland win a penalty as O'Driscoll contests the ruck. From near halfway, Jackson decides to go for goal.

The Ulster flyhalf lands a truly superb kick from halfway to narrow the gap.

Italy 16-12 Ireland

15:48

55 mins: Italy are back on the attack up the left wing but a pass from McLean goes forward and Ireland breath a sigh of relief.

15:46

54 mins: PENALTY - IRELAND - JACKSON

From that trip, Jackson slots over a penalty to narrow the gap.

Italy 16-9 Ireland

15:44

51 mins: Ireland attack now with ball-in-hand. Ryan takes a crash ball as Ireland edge up the field. Madigan takes the ball on at 12 and cuts back inside Parisse, but the Italy captain trips the centre with his foot. Yellow card for the Italy captain.

15:40

49 mins: TRY & CONVERSION - ITALY - VENDITTI & ORQUERA

Barnes has gone to the TMO to ask if the ball was touched down by Venditti. It looks like it was and the TMO Jim Yuille says yes - try. Italy's attacks get the reward they deserve.From wide right, on the 22, Orquera slots the conversion. Superb kick.

Italy 16-6 Ireland

15:39

47 mins: Ireland scrum. Gori puts in and Italy get the shunt on where Parisse picks and goes. Henderson stops him and Gori then spins it wide where Italy have Masi joining the line, Gilroy stops him from crossing the tryline. Venditti also has a go and is held up by last-gasp Irish defence.

15:34

46 mins: Italy and Ireland exchange attacks before Italy go out the line with several attacks as Parisse tries to bash his way past Parisse. But Orquera turns over possession and Gilroy touches down in the in-goal area for a five-metre scrum.

15:32

41 mins: Jackson restarts for Ireland. Italy receive the ball, maul and then boot back to Ireland. Jackson passes outside to Kearney, who boots long to touch.

15:31

The teams are back out on the pitch in Rome as Barnes prepares to get the game underway again.

15:23

For your information, O'Mahony has played winger for Cork Con in an All-Ireland League semi-final play-off, so has some experience, although limited, in the position.

15:22

But despite all the injuries, Ireland are right in this. Three penalties to three. For all Italy's possession they should be out of sight, they are not. Ireland's challenge is to recover. Back for the second half soon.

15:19

HALF-TIME: ITALY 9-6 IRELAND

What a half. End-to-end stuff and Ireland being decimated by injury. Earls (shoulder), Marshall (concussion) and Fitzgerald (knee) are all off.

Fitzgerald came on for Earls on the wing, then Madigan came on for Marshall. Fitzgerald was then replaced by Henderson, with Henderson slotting into the back row and O'Mahony moving onto the wing, with Madigan and O'Driscoll filling the centre slots.

15:16

42 mins: PENALTY - IRELAND - JACKSON

Ireland win the scrum and Jackson garryowens long and Heaslip wins the breaking ball. Healy crashes at Italy and Ireland win a penalty as Italy prevent the ball from coming back. From wide left of goal, Jackson lands a superb penalty to leave the half-time score 9-6 to Italy. A massive 40 minutes awaits.

Italy 9-6 Ireland

15:16

38 mins: O'Driscoll is back on the pitch. 

15:13

37 mins: Italy attack again and Lo Cicero pumps the legs and smashes into the Ireland defence on the Ireland 22. Italy go several more phases but the Ireland defence does superbly well to win the ball back at the ruck and win a scrum.

15:12

36 mins: Fitzgerald cant continue and is replaced by Henderson. The sub goes into the back row with O'Mahony playing in the backs.

15:09

35 mins: PENALTY - ITALY - GARCIA

Italy scrum just inside the Ireland half. Cittadini collapses, but Barnes says penalty against Ross. That was the wrong call from the referee. Garcia will go for goal from near halfway, he lands a simply huge and amazing kick.

Italy 9-3 Ireland

15:09

34 mins: Ireland win their own lineout from the last penalty and Heaslip carries up the centre after several phases. Ireland then start a maul but the ball fails to come back and as a result Italy win a scrum.

15:08

33 mins: Fitzgerald is back on his feet and will attempt to play on.

15:05

31 mins: Ireland win and Murray boxkicks long back to Italy. Venditt launches an attack up the right wing before the Azzurri then spin wide left where Orquera makes a break before Parisse attacks and Furno does likewise. It is spun to midfield where Orquera knocks on in contact from a suoperb Jackson tackle and O'Brien carries the ball away from the Ireland 22. Italy are then done for infringing at the breakdown. But the bad news is that Fitzgerald is injured with a knee problem and is receiving attention from Eanna Falvey, the Irish team doctor.

15:04

31 mins: Italy go wide left across the field of play and push the Ireland defence to the limit before knocking on. Scrum Ireland in their own half. Fitzgerald and Madigan are in midfield for Ireland now.

15:02

30 mins: Madigan attacks with ball-in-hand and Favaro tackles him hard and fails to roll away. Brian O'Driscoll then stamps Favaro for not getting out of the way. He is sin-binned. It could have been a red card.

15:02

29 mins: Jackson goes for goal with the penalty and pushes it wide right. A miss each for Jackson and Orquera.

15:01

28 mins: Marshall has to leave the field of play after suffering a clash of heads with Paddy Jackson while they both tackled an Italian player. Madigan replaces him. 

 

14:59

26 mins: Italy win their lineout and attack phase-after phase, but it's blunt and Ireland turn over through O'Brien. Murray makes a snipe around  a ruck as Ireland try to go through the phases, before Jackson rushes a kick which just ends in Venditti's arms. The winger runs it back to contact, but Italy's support men play the ball off their feet at the ruck. Penalty Ireland.

14:59

26 mins: Fitzgerald on for Earls.

14:58

26 mins: It looks like Earls went down hard on his shoulder and must leave the field of play. Looks like a dislocated shoulder or broken collarbone.

14:55

24 mins: Ireland scrum: it's solid and Marshall kicks downfield where Masi collects and boots back to Ireland. Jackson feeds wide to Earls on the wing. The Munster man attacks but the ball ends in touch. Good burst of speed from Earls, who must receive treatment after that attack.

14:53

23 mins: Ireland go out the line to Marshall but he loses the ball and Italy attack with a Masi up-and-under. Gilroy and Kearney both go for the ball and as a result the ball goes forward. Parisse breaks up the right wing and offloads to Furno before Italy spin across the Irish 22. The Azzurri spill the ball with Ireland gasping for air, a let-off for Kidney's charges. Ireland are in trouble at the moment.

14:51

21 mins: PENALTY - ITALY - ORQUERA

O'Brien attacks hard with ball-in-hand and then McLean attacks hard as Ireland lose possession. Ireland again kill the ball at the breakdown - another penalty for Italy. Referee Barnes makes it clear that Ireland are not clearing the tackle zone. Orquera decides to kick for goal from wide left of goal and he curls a banana kick from left to right and bisects the posts. Italy lead this tie.

Italy 6-3 Ireland

14:50

20 mins: Orquera to have a pop at goal with the penalty. From in front of the sticks, near the 22, he hits the post and the ball rebounds back into play.

14:49

19 mins: Eventually Italy win a penalty as Mike Ross contests the ball at the ruck while off his feet.

 

14:46

18 mins: Italy back in possession as Ireland's penalty comes to nothing. The Azzurri swing left and right in attack and eventually the ball spills forward off Parisse. Ireland break up the left with Marshall befoer Murray dinks the ball over the top. Italy come again.

14:45

15 mins: Italy win the restart and Gori makes a superb snipe down the left wing, but Favaro goes off his feet at the next ruck and prevents competition. Penalty Ireland in their own half.

14:43

13 mins: PENALTY - ITALY - ORQUERA

Zanni wins at the tail and Italy maul hard into the Ireland five-metre area. Parisse then breaks for the line before he is tackled on the line. Referee Wayne Barnes says Ireland failed to release in the tackle. Penalty to Italy. Orquera slots an easy penalty from in front of the posts.

Italy 3-3 Ireland

14:41

12 mins: Italy kick to touch and win the lineout with Zanni. Ryan then takes Lo Cicero out off the ball - penalty Italy. Orquera kicks to the corner for Italy.

14:40

11 mins: Ryan loses the ball at four with a fumble and Italy attack and set the ruck. Ireland infringe at the breakdown - penalty Italy. In fact, Parisse stole the ball in the lineout from Parisse.

14:40

10 mins: Furno wins at the tail and Italy boot long to touch with Orquera.

14:39

10 mins: Italy lineout deep in their own half, on their five-metre line, in fact. 

14:38

9 mins: Best throw to O'Brien in the lineout and Murray makes a half break. Ireland feed to Marshall and he cuts into the Italy defence. Murray boxkicks long to the corner.

14:37

8 mins: Long punt at Italy and they secure but then Healy steals the ball and goes on the charge. Cittadini steals it back before McLean boots long to touch.

14:36

7 mins: Scrum Italy in the Ireland half. Italy's pack is 875kg, Ireland's pack is 880kg. Italy engage early - free-kick to Ireland.

14:36

7 mins: Orquera restarts and Kearney claims it. Ireland try to recycle but Murray knocks on.

14:34

5 mins: PENALTY - IRELAND - JACKSON

Heaslip and Best carry hard to the Italy 22, before Ryan follow suit. But Ireland win a penalty as Ghiraldini fails to roll away at the tackle.

From just outside the 22, in front of the sticks, Jackson slots it over.

Italy 0-3 Ireland

14:32

3 mins: Ghiraldini is penalised for holding on after an attack and Ireland kick to touch. But Italy steal it and pass out the line to Masi, before McLean clears long to Kearney. The fullback kicks and chases and the ball ends up on the Irish side with Ryan recycling before O'Brien charges at Italy, Murray then takes it on.

14:31

2 mins: Heaslip wins the lineout and Ireland use a slight maul before Murray boxkicks long towards Parisse, he claims and Italy attack with Cittadini. Orquera then launches a garryowen at Kearney. The fullback returns the kick to Italy.

14:30

1 min: Italy kick-off to Ireland, where Sean O'Brien receives and Ireland win an early penalty in their half as the Italians fail to release the tackler.

Jackson bashes the penalty to touch.

14:28

A reminder of the teams for today's first encounter. 

Italy: 15-Andrea Masi, 14-Giovanbattista Venditti, 13-Gonzalo Canale, 12-Gonzalo Garcia, 11-Luke McLean, 10-Luciano Orquera, 9-Edoardo Gori; 1-Andrea Lo Cicero, 2-Leonardo Ghiraldini, 3-Lorenzo Cittadini, 4-Quintin Geldenhuys, 5-Joshua Furno, 6-Alessandro Zanni, 7-Simone Favaro, 8-Sergio Parisse (captain).

Replacements: 16-Davide Giazzon, 17-Michele Rizzo, 18-Alberto De Marchi, 19-Antonio Pavanello, 20-Francesco Minto, 21-Paul Derbyshire, 22-Tobias Botes, 23-Tommaso Benvenuti.

Ireland: 15-Rob Kearney, 14-Craig Gilroy, 13-Brian O'Driscoll, 12-Luke Marshall, 11-Keith Earls, 10-Paddy Jackson, 9-Conor Murray; 1-Cian Healy, 2-Rory Best, 3-Mike Ross, 4-Mike McCarthy, 5-Donnacha Ryan, 6-Peter O'Mahony, 7-Sean O'Brien, 8-Jamie Heaslip (captain).

Replacements: 16-Sean Cronin, 17-David Kilcoyne, 18-Stephen Archer, 19-Devin Toner, 20-Iain Henderson, 21-Paul Marshall, 22-Ian Madigan, 23-Luke Fitzgerald.

14:27

The Song of the Italians belts out and is - as usual - absolutely beast.

14:24

Ireland's Call is about to belted out across the sold out Stadio Olimpico for what could possibly be Brian O'Driscoll's final outing in a green shirt.

Not the best rendition ever it has to be said.

A comment has been thrown around the office saying that rendition was the musical equivalent of eating burnt spam.

14:05

 

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-partner="tweetdeck"><p>Since RWC2011 Ireland have led at half time 10 times, winning just 4: <a href="http://t.co/BVrGqoPkkc" title="http://www.andymcgeady.com/irelands-lost-leads/">andymcgeady.com/irelands-lost-…</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23rugby">#rugby</a></p>&mdash; Andy McGeady (@andymcgeady) <a href="https://twitter.com/andymcgeady/status/312929958576144384">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

 

13:56

In other news, former Ireland head coach Eddie O'Sullivan has been appointed director of rugby for the Cyprus national team.

13:49

The final day of the game sees France and Scotland battle it out at Stade de France. If France lose they will have their first winless season since 1999, which was also the last time Scotland won against France in Paris - a 36-22 win at Parc des Princes.

Scotland, meanwhile, could potentially finish second in the table if they win; however, they would need to turnaround a 31 points-difference margin between they and Wales to do so. That means third place in the table is the more likely goal for them.

13:40

Post Ireland's battle with Italy, Wales and England meet in the day's main event: the championship decider at Millennium Stadium. If Wales win by eight points they win the title. If they win, but by less than eight, England win the title in points. If Wales win by seven points, and England do not score three more tries than Wales, then the Principality win on tries scored.

Of course if England win the game they secure a first Grand Slam since 2003 and their 13th Slam in total, and their 27th championship title. If Wales win the championship it will be their 26th, drawing level in the all-time table with England.

13:32

Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Nin's quote sums up Ireland's season very accurately. This season has displayed a time when the old guard have withered and the new guard have begun to their attempt to ascent the mountain that is international Test rugby.

To say it has been a season of full bloom would be remiss as Ireland have failed to ignite in their last three encounters. Against Wales they flourished, against England they perished in the Lansdowne Road rain, at Murrayfield Ireland's game plan proved blunt and against France they ran out of steam.

But a strong finish today against Italy would at least leave a taste of sweet gelato in the mouths of Irish fans and the team alike. A first ever championship defeat to the Azzurri would leave a taste more akin to basil tart.

Kick-off in Rome is 14:00. 

My esteemed colleague Brendan Cole previews the clash here.

13:24

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p>The <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23RBS6Nations">#RBS6Nations</a> Trophy arriving at the Millennium Stadium by boat! <a href="https://twitter.com/search/%23WALvENG">#WALvENG</a> <a href="http://t.co/Zu5NhNDl8m" title="http://twitter.com/rbs_6_nations/status/312911693451759617/photo/1">twitter.com/rbs_6_nations/…</a></p>&mdash; RBS 6 Nations (@rbs_6_nations) <a href="https://twitter.com/rbs_6_nations/status/312911693451759617">March 16, 2013</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>

12:53

Our own Tadhg Peavoy reckons Wales v England is a "must see" in a year. Read his view on the clash. He also looks ahead to the France v Scotland tie  

 

12:06

Hi everybody and welcome to our coverage of today's games. Six weeks ago it all started so well for the Irish with that stirring win over Wales in Cardiff. No wins since - with only a draw last week against France to see us on a points tally of three. A win today in Rome would see us equal or showing in the 2012 Six Nations. Read Brendan Cole's preview of our tussle with Italy here.

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