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Page last updated at 19:16 GMT, Saturday, 12 March 2011

Saturday's Six Nations action as it happened


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By Mark Orlovac

1913: Right then, on that note, it's time to sign off. The Red Button forum continues on the erm... red button and at the top of this page, while all the reaction from today will appear on the BBC Sport website. Thank you for your company and all your messages. I reckon the party is in full flow in Rome now and will probably end around Tuesday. A truely memorable day. Take care.

1910: Ireland coach Declan Kidney is being interviewed now and brilliantly puts things in perspective. "We lost by six points, that was a seven-point decision and there's everything that's going on in Japan," he says. Can't really add to that.

1906: Ireland did have a chance to win right at the end, remember, but Wallace obviously tried to get inside to help the kicker rather than sending in Keith Earls out wide to score in the corner.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
angharad o'reilly via text: "All I can say as a Welsh lady married to an Irish man, I feel for Ireland and if we'd lost that way I'd be fuming. As it is, can't be changed now."

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
GB in London via text: "Ireland got the benefit of countless poor reffing. Missed hands in ruck, foward passes, knock ons. Don't start crying when one goes against you."

1859: Wales [controversial] try-scorer Mike Phillips is asked about that try and says: "High tackles are not allowed either, but they happen." Ireland skipper Brian O'Driscoll is being interviweed on the Red Forum and is fuming. "These games are one and lost on little moments and that was a huge moment. What's the point of having a TMO if you can't check that. It was an illegitamate try."

Keith Wood
BBC rugby union pundit Keith Wood: "You can see the anger on their faces. They know it can't be a quick line-out. I would say in terms of common sense for the sport we love that that is something that takes 30 seconds to look at the video and say it isn't a try."

1853: So Wales' dreams of the 2011 title are still alive, Ireland's are probably over now right? Wales now head to Paris for a match against a beleugered French side while Ireland now take on England in Dublin on the final day. The Welsh will be screaming for the Scots to win at Twickenham tomorrow.

JacksonTC on Twitter: "Awful game of rugby decided by an awful refereeing decision. Wales can hardly say they deserved it."

1849: Two dramatic games today folks. Told you it was going to be good. The big talking point from Cardiff was that Wales try from the quick line-out. Law 19.2 (d) was not applied today and Wales were lucky to get away with it.

80+2 mins: Ireland cough up the ball again and Shane Williams boots the ball out to spark wild celebrations in Cardiff. That was tense.

Full time
FULL-TIME: Wales 19-13 Ireland

80+1 mins: Drama. There's space out wide but Wales bring Paddy Wallace down when there was a man outside him. Big mistake. He should have given it instead of cutting inside. Ireland still in possession. One last chance.

80 mins: Ireland can pressurise again after Sexton fires a penalty to the corner. This is it. Can Wales hold on?

76 mins: This is going nowhere. Wales are happy to hang around the halfway line but eventually they concede a penalty for diving into a ruck off their feet. They boot to the corner and attack in the Wales 22 but knock on. Ireland do not have much longer to nick this. Sean Cronin replaces hooker Rory Best, Leo Cullen comes on for Donncha O'Callaghan.

73 mins: Wales get possession in the Irish half as Tommy Bowe and Peter Stringer make a bit of a horlicks of trying to keep a kick to touch in play. From the line-out, the Welsh forwards are just picking and going - not making any ground at all but at least it is eating up valuable time. Paddy Wallace comes on for Fiztgerald while Richard Hibbard replaces Wales hooker and skipper Matthew Rees. Alun Wyn Jones takes over the captaincy.

> IrishmanSanFran on Twitter: "Not only was it a different ball, but he was two yards on the field when passing the ball. Why didn't they go to TMO?"
70 mins: Ireland subs: Denis Leamy on for number eight Jamie Heaslip, Tom Court on for prop Mike Ross.

69 mins: From that penalty touch line-out, David Wallace is penalised - not quite sure what for - and Hook strokes over for the three points. Ireland are losing their grip on this game, and the chance of winning the Triple Crown.

PENALTY: Wales 19-13 Ireland

67 mins: That really is good work from Wales. Sean O'Brien is enveloped by Wales tacklers and is penalised for not releasing the ball. Wales clear their lines.

65 mins: Hooray! We've got a bit of passing and running and stuff. Ireland in the Wales 22 now, O'Driscoll jinks and darts but cannot find a way through.

64 mins: Sexton's kick puts Ireland in the Wales corner but the home side win their throw and Phillips boots to touch.

63 mins: Message to the players in Cardiff: could you try to keep the ball in hand stop kicking possession away? That is all.

EvanQuick on Twitter: "Wales very lucky with the score. However I'll take that!"

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Luke in Durham via text: "I often bemoan the lack of technology in football, but when you can use it, and it would only take 30 seconds to use it, then officials need to explain themselves as to why they haven't used it!"

60 mins: Wales sub: Jonathan Thomas on for Ryan Jones.

58 mins: Just seen a replay of the line-out and Jonathan Davies brings up the rule that governs this situation. "For a quick line-out, you must use the same ball that was kicked into touch," says Jiffy. "So therefore, that was not a try." You can discuss this incident, as well as all the action from this weekend, on the Red Button forum after this match.

55 mins: It goes from bad to worse for Ireland. Fitzgerald goes over for what he thinks is a try but play is called back for a forward pass. Ireland get a penalty instead for an earlier infringement but Sexton misses. The Leinster fly-half has not had a good couple of minutes.

Try graphic
51 mins: Wales 16-13 Ireland Controversy. Sexton smacks the ball out on the full, giving Wales a line-out just in the Irish half. Wales take a very quick throw while Ireland are yet to form their line and Mike Phillips has an unchallenged run in for the try. Ireland's players are fuming because Wales did not use the same ball that was booted out by Sexton for the quick line-out. Kaplan asks his touch judge: 'Was it the same ball?". "Yes," is the reply from Peter Allan. He's got that wrong I'm afraid. Hook gets the extras.

TRY: Wales 14-13 Ireland

50 mins: O'Gara leaves the action and is replaced by Jonathan Sexton. Will Ireland keep the ball in hand a bit more now?

48 mins: Wales boot the ball out of hand, not for the first time today, and Fitzgerald fails to catch the high ball. The home side pile forward, the ball comes wide and Shane Williams kicks the ball into the in-goal area and Ireland mop up. That was a strange decision from Shane there, I don't know why he didn't have a go at Tommy Bowe.

46 mins: Wales in the Ireland 22... and the ball is knocked on. Crikey, this is not a passage of play I will remember fondly. The crowd are responding the action on the field by being completely silent. Can't blame them really. Strange atmosphere.

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Anon via text: "Regarding the Irish indiscipline, I'm wondering if its in preparation for the generally more aggressive southern hemisphere teams and the World Cup?"

43 mins: Wales attack again but again they turn the ball over, Ronan O'Gara ripping the ball out of a Welshman's grasp. Ireland now comes forward but now they lose the ball. Scrappy.

whittom9 on Twitter: "Why did we kick the ball away just before half time? We had them going backwards. Irish knock ons don't exist either?! "

41 mins: James Hook starts the second half for Wales. The home side get the ball back and they can attack - a bright start. Oh hang on, they've turned the ball over.

It's raining
1800: Apparently it has just started raining in Cardiff. Wales wanted the roof closed by the way, and Ireland said no. Let's see what effect that has on the game.

Keith Wood
BBC rugby union pundit Keith Wood: "It is very exciting. I thought the game was going to light up at the start but the penalties have taken the sting out of the game."

Jonathan Davies
BBC rugby union pundit Jonathan Davies: "Ireland look very comfortable and they look far more threatening than Wales. Wales have had a lot of territory but have not threatened the Irish defence. Ireland know what Wales are going to do next. Wales need to carry the ball more, they are going wide quickly and Ireland are covering them."

BBC rugby union pundit Phillip Matthews: "Ireland barely deserve the lead. It's a very unstructured game and Warren Gatland will be happy enough because it suits Wales to play like that. Ireland will want a lot more structure on the game in the second half."

1751: A few half-time stats for you. Wales have had 44% of the ball but 57% of the territory, and have conceded four penalties to Ireland's five.

Half time
HALF-TIME: Wales 9-13 Ireland

40 mins: O'Brien goes on a monstrous charge towards the Wales line and the Welsh defence struggle to get him down. He's like a bulldozer. Mike Phillips eventually does get him to the floor but he is penalised for not releasing the tackled player and O'Gara kicks over from five metres out.

PENALTY: Wales 9-13 Ireland

39 mins: Well that was a kick. Ireland are penalised again - blind-side flanker Sean O'Brien is offside near halfway and Leigh Halfpenny boots over from 47 metres. "Ireland do not deserve to be in this if they keep conceding penalties like that," says BBC rugby union pundit Phillip Matthews.

PENALTY: Wales 9-10 Ireland

36 mins: Ireland have spent a bit more time in the Welsh half in the last few minutes. O'Driscoll and Earls try to burst through but Wales do not let them through. O'Gara chips over the top but no-one was really running onto it and Wales clear.

33 mins: No worries for O'Gara as the ball splits the uprights.

PENALTY: Wales 6-10 Ireland

32 mins: Saying that, there's a scrum just inside the Wales half and the home side - Paul James in particular - are pinged for not binding. O'Gara has the kick.

30 mins: Wales in the Ireland 22 again. John Yapp takes the ball on but he turns it over after some strong work from Irish flanker David Wallace, who rips it out of the Cardiff player's hands. It's all a bit scrappy out there - not a lot of structure. O'Driscoll is dishing out a rollicking to his players. They need to get out of their own half.

29 mins: That's simple enough for Hook as Wales are now within a point.

PENALTY: Wales 6-7 Ireland

27 mins: That spell comes to nowt as Ireland boot the ball clear but it is pretty aimless and Wales come again. Healy infringes and Wales have another shot at goal. Kaplan now has a word with O'Driscoll - can't hear what the conversation is, wonder if a card will soon be coming out?

25 mins: It's same old, same old for Ireland as they fail to roll away from a tackled player on halfway - that's the third penalty so far. Wales boot to touch, they have line-out on the Ireland 22.

22 mins: Ireland are in trouble as a loose ball in the middle of the paddock puts Wales on the front foot. There's plenty of men on the left - I can hear Jonathan Davies shouting 'numbers!' - but the ball doesn't go wide as quickly as it should. Eventually Shane Williams has, he hurdles over Fitzgerald's tackle, lands on the floor and then carries on but referee Kaplan rules that the wing was tackled and should have released. Ireland can clear.

20 mins:Hook was never going to miss that was he... I can say that now that he's got it.

PENALTY: Wales 3-7 Ireland

19 mins: Another penalty conceded by Ireland. Rory Best goes off his feet at the tackle and Hook has another attempt from close range...

17 mins: Wales pressurise and Ireland infringe at a ruck. Penalty kick for Wales on the left... but Hook slips just as he is about to kick it and the ball comes off the far post. O'Gara clears and Wales have a line-out 10 metres from the Irish line.

15 mins: Byrne fires an enormous boot downfield into Irish territory and Fitzgerald has no option but to place the ball into touch. Chance for Wales here.

13 mins: Tommy Bowe has the ball in hand down the Irish right and produces a strong hand off on Ospreys team-mate Shane Williams but is eventually dumped into touch. Wales tight-head prop Craig Mitchell is forced off after a tackle on Cian Healy, John Yapp comes on.

11 mins: Wales are still in the Ireland half. It's an Irish scrum but there's good pressure from Wales and the men in green have to scramble to keep the ball. O'Gara dinks the ball over the top for Luke Fitzgerald to run onto but Wales are strong at the breakdown and they win a turnover.

8 mins: A superb clearing kick from Hook puts Wales in Irish territory. Halfpenny gets the ball down the right but Keith Earls covers well.

Try graphic
3 mins: Wales 0-7 Ireland Ireland are patient, they go left, they go right as they wait for a gap to open up. And it does. Tommy Bowe is the first receiver and there's a mismatch, he skips around Alun Wyn Jones in midfield and pops the ball up to Brian O'Driscoll who will not score an easier try. He equals Ian Smith's championship record of 24 and Ronan O'Gara's conversion means he becomes the fifth player to score 1,000 points in Test rugby.

TRY: Wales 0-5 Ireland

2 mins: Irish ball in the Wales 22. Good early pressure for the visitors.

1 min: Ronan O'Gara gets the match under way. James Hook tries to clear and it is charged down by Eoin Reddan. The Leinster half-back is injured, though, and is replaced by Peter Stringer.

1704: Just to mention that Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll needs one try to equal the individual record of 24 for most career touchdowns in the international championship - set by Scotland's Ian Smith - while Wales wing Shane Williams requires two.

1702: The Welsh national anthem never fails to raise the hairs on the back of my neck. Never.

marcoviappia on Twitter: "Italy beating France in rugby was a bit like Slovakia beating Italy in football.. but who cares? I wish I was in Rome now."

1655: Ireland have been guilty of conceding quite a few penalties so far and Gatland made a point before the game by saying he was going to speak to referee Jonathan Kaplan about it. By the way, Wales have actually conceded more penalties than Ireland - 34 to 36. Teams now out and after a minute's silence for the victims of the Japanese earthquake, it's the anthems.

1652: By the way, Gatland becomes the longest serving Welsh coach today as it is his 36th match in charge, beating the mark of 35 set by Alan Davies in the early 1990s. While you are waiting for kick off, take a look at Bruce Pope's feature on Gatland's time in charge. Lovely.

1648: Wales coach Warren Gatland has restored James Hook to the fly-half role after the unconvincing victory over Italy. Inside centre Jonathan Davies returns as Stephen Jones drops to the bench. Leigh Halfpenny replaces Morgan Stoddart on the wing. Ireland, meanwhile, have got an unchanged side - Eoin Reddan retaining his place at scrum-half despite the return of Tomas O'Leary from injury.

BBC Sport's Bruce Pope at the Millennium Stadium: "A few famous faces being picked out by the cameras around Westgate Street outside the stadium, with tv presenter Eamonn Holmes here to cheer on Ireland while West End star Connie Fisher is keeping the Welsh end up. Ireland have won the toss and have chosen to kick off."

Italy skipper Sergio Parisse: "It's a dream today, beating France, we've never beaten them before in the Six Nations. I'm really proud and happy for all these people. [Mallett] is the only coach who believed in us, I want to dedicate this victory to him."

Italy coach Nick Mallett: "We're working and improving all the time, I've stuck with the same group over the last three years. I've got a great captain in Sergio Parisse - he's been a lone figure over the last four years, but he's now playing with a team where he just has to do his part - today we had 15, 22 players all playing their parts. [Alessandro] Zanni was outstanding today, Masi, the full-back, had an excellent game - they were a really good rugby team today. We played today against a good French team, who have reached two World Cup finals and have always thrashed Italy really, so it's a huge achievement."

BBC rugby union pundit Serge Betsen: "The French conceded a lot of penalties and didn't really take the game in hand. It will be a nightmare for Marc Lievremont to have to answer the questions coming his way as to why the team lost today."

1638: Right. We've got another match now people. Wales and Ireland in Cardiff. A match which has seen some wonderful contests in the last few years. Quick stat for you: Ireland have only lost once in Cardiff since 1983. That defeat was in 2005 when Wales won the Grand Slam.

BBC Sport's Bruce Pope at the Millennium Stadium: "Welsh and Irish fans and journalists united in a huge cheer here at the Millennium Stadium as news filters through that Italy had beaten France. Pizza and Chianti all round!"

Jeremy Guscott
BBC rugby union pundit Jeremy Guscott: "They deserve this after the way they have played in their previous games in Rome. They pushed Ireland so close, the Wales game was all about kicks, and I thought it was going to be the same when Bergamasco missed those two kicks in the second half. But Italy dug deep and deserved their victory. It was absolutely fantastic."

BBC rugby union pundit Andy Nicol: "Italy were outstanding. To come back into that game having been 18-6 down and turn it around like that, is just fantastic. They have beaten Scotland and Wales here but never really come close to beating France, who scored an average of 45 points on their previous visits to Rome. That is an outstanding turnaround."

1632: I'm still coming to terms with what has happened in Rome. My prediction of a 20-point victory for France looks ridiculous now doesn't it? By the way, right at the start of this commentary I put up a tweet from a certain Austin Healey who predicted that Italy would win by one. What does he know about rugby?

>Anon via text: "Surely Mallett has to stay now, Italy have improved match on match and this is the culmination of the hard work. Well done Italy!"
SJAttree on Twitter: "Parisse really is a mountain of a man. Absolute rock today."

PAHarper on Twitter: "Mentioning David Pleat has made my afternoon, along with the score! Thank you!"

1623: The French players looked absolutely shell shocked as they trudged off the field. You know when I said that I would like to be in their dressing room at half-time, I definitely would like to be there now. I think I can hear the sound of French sports journalists sharpening their pencils from here.

1619: This is a huge moment for Italian rugby. It is the first time they have beaten France in the Six Nations, and only the second time they have overcome the French in their history. Mallett is very watery eyed when he is interviewed by the BBC. There's going to be a bit of a celebration in Rome tonight. "I don't think I'll get a lot of sleep," says Mallett. The Stadio Flaminio is still full. And very noisy. They are not going anywhere.

1615: What scenes. The Italian crowd are going potty. Mallett runs onto the field, a bit like David Pleat when Luton avoided relegation in the 1980s. There's an enormous smile on his face but a closer look reveals that he has been crying. What. A. Result.

1613: Words fail me. France have to use the ball, Harinordoquy takes the ball up but is going nowhere and the referee blows up. The party can start in Rome.

Full time
FULL-TIME: Italy 22-21 France

80+2 mins: Another massive shove from France. Front rows come up again. It's not a penalty though. The scrum is re-set. It's incredibly tense.

80+1 mins: Massive scrum. It's good for France, they are looking for a penalty. The front rows come up, it's going to be re-set.

80 mins: France creeping forward - 30 metres out. They are setting themselves up for a drop goal. The forwards take it up... scrum to France. This is unbearable.

79 mins: France have the ball on halfway. Italy are strong in defence. Not long now.

nathanhainescreates on Twitter: "This Italy vs France game has turned into quite an event! Lets see if Italy can hold onto this lead."

75 mins: Wow. Bergamasco nails it. The Italian crowd go absolutely bananas. Italy are just five minutes away from an incredible victory. Can they close it out?

PENALTY: Italy 22-21 France

74 mins: Burton has settled things down for Italy since his introduction. He sees space in the corner and kicks over Huget who instead of letting it roll out, tries to collect it but incredibly steps out into touch with the ball still in his hands. Ridiculous. Italy take the quick line-out and France concede a penalty. Bergamasco now has a kick to put his side in front...

72 mins: Semenzato storms down the field but can't hold onto the ball when he meets a French defender. France now come forward but Marconnet is penalised for lying on the wrong side of a ruck. Silly.

70 mins: This is going to be a grandstand finish. France players lie all over a ruck and they concede their ninth penalty of the match. This is a big one for Bergamasco on the right and he slots it through the posts. He's kicked five from seven today.

PENALTY: Italy 19-21 France

68 mins: Castrogiovanni is penalised for holding on to the ball. Parra with the kick from a long way out and despite the whistling from the crowd, don't know if I like that to be honest, Parra's kick just falls over the bar.

PENALTY: Italy 16-21 France

66 mins: France with a bit of ball now. Here's Trinh-Duc with the drop-goal... and it goes wide. While that was all going on, there's been a few subs. Here they are. France: Chabal off for Imanol Harinordoquy, Jerome Thion on for lock Lionel Nallet. Italy: Paul Derbyshire on for flanker Robert Barbieri, Quintin Geldenhuys on for lock Santiao Dellape and Kris Burton on for fly-half Orquera.

64 mins: Yes he can. Bergamasco batters it through the posts. This is a game now, make no mistake. The Italian crowd have found their voice. "Now we'll see what France are made of," says Nicol. How costly are those two missed Bergamasco penalties going to be for Italy?

PENALTY: Italy 16-18 France

63 mins: The Stadio Flaminio is bouncing now and Italy are on the march again. They've got a penalty as France are penalised for hands in the ruck. Can Bergamasco nail it?

Try graphic
59 mins: Italy 13-18 France Maybe this game isn't over after all. Italy keep the ball alive and they make ground, entering the France 22. From a ruck, Semenzato darts down the blind-side and fires out the ball to Masi on the wing, who dives over for a deserved try. Bergamasco adds the extras from far out.

TRY: Italy 11-18 France

57 mins: Another penalty for Italy. Rougerie goes over the top of a ruck and is offside. Bergamasco has another go at goal but the ball goes across the face of the posts. "That is why a team needs an out and out kicker," says Nicol.

56 mins: Italy kick the ball away when keeping it hand would have been the better option. Again. France wing Yoann Huget is tackled in his own half, scrum-half Fabio Semenzato - who has had a good game - collects the ball. France are penalised. Mirco Bergamasco has the kick but it does not have enough.

54 mins: It is very, very quiet in Rome now. The Italian crowd obviously not having much belief that their team have it within them to fight back. Here's another scrum... and the Italians are battered.

Try graphic
50 mins: Italy 6-18 France Well, could that be the end of Italy's resistance? Trinh-Duc steps and darts through the Italian defence near the line, he offloads to Parra on his shoulder and the Clermont scrum-half dives over for his first Test try. Parra then adds the extras and the cushion is now 12 points.

TRY: Italy 6-16 France

48 mins: Here's another charge from Masi, he dinks the ball up and France collect. They don't keep the ball for long as Rougerie's pass to midfield partner Yannick Jauzion is dreadful - the Toulouse centre knocking on. Italy subs: Leonardo Ghiraldini on for Carlo Festuccia at hooker, Salvatore Perugini replaces Andrea Lo Cicero at prop.

45 mins: Italy 6-11 France France boot long to clear their lines. Italy pick and go through the forwards in their own 22 but no-one goes with Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni, he is isolated and is penalised for holding on to the ball. Parra gratefully accepts the three points.

PENALTY: Italy 6-11 France

42 mins: That's more like it. A cute offload from Orquera to Masi on the charge. He bursts through a gap in the French defence but France hang firm as Italy kick the ball when they surely should have kept in hand on the 22. Poor.

41 mins: France get us under way and almost immediately there's a huge hit by flanker Robert Barbieri on Julien Bonnaire. Ouch.

1523: The players are back out. Are we going to see a shock? Luc Ducalcon comes on for France prop Nicolas Mas.

1519: A reminder that France really do need to get points on the board today as they are way behind England, plus eight to plus 61. This scoreline will not be helping their cause. I would love to be in that French dressing room at the moment, I wouldn't be able to understand a word Lievremont is saying but it would be interesting nonetheless.

Jeremy Guscott
BBC rugby union pundit Jeremy Guscott: "France have been very disappointing for me. They have been very sloppy. This is a big outfit and they are making some basic errors. They have not been very ambitious. You do not expect world-class players to make so many mistakes."

BBC rugby union pundit Andy Nicol: "Apart from one bit of inspiration from Vincent Clerc to score the only try, it has been very scrappy and very physical. It's not been fantastic quality but this is a full-on Test match."

1514: Tell you what, this isn't a done deal. France are not having this their own way at all. This will be a very intriguing second half, no doubt.

Half time
HALF-TIME: Italy 6-8 France

38 mins: Canale tries to barge his way through the France midfield. I wouldn't fancy stopping him in that mood to be honest. France fail to roll away from the tackled player and that's the fifth penalty they have conceded this half.

36 mins: Parra takes a quick tap penalty and here come France again. Italy's defence is superb again, though, helped by their world-class number eight Sergio Parisse, and the ball is turned over again. By the way, apologies if you are getting these updates a little slower than you should, we are having a few technical problems. I am still writing. Promise.

33 mins: Italy come into a ruck from the side and Parra takes the kick from long-range... and it hits the posts and bounces clear. That's two misses from Parra so far. France get the scrum from the collected ball but Sylvain Marconnet is penalised and Italy can clear.

31 mins: Italy can't take advantage of their possession and France have a scrum in midfield. *BREAKING NEWS* - that scrum is completed at the first time of asking. I'm in shock. Italy full-back Andrea Masi collects a kick-through and smashes into Clerc, knocking the Frenchman into next week. That has to hurt.

28 mins: Sloppy again from France. Medard is caught by some aggressive Italian defence and the ball is turned over. Former France international Serge Betsen, in the BBC One studio, is not too happy with how his compatriots are performing. "It's frustrating to see them playing like this again," he says.

26 mins: There's a bit of a kicking contest at the moment. The game has settled down a little after what has been a very enjoyable opening 25 minutes. Yoann Huget fires out into touch, there's an Italy line-out but it is not straight and France have a scrum just inside the Italian half.

24 mins: Italy 6-8 France Great run by Canale, obviously trying to show that his side do indeed have a cutting edge. France are penalised for being offiside at a ruck and Mirco Bergamasco fires over from close range. Game on.

PENALTY: Italy 6-8 France

21 mins: Italy 3-8 France It's a very strong French shove at that scrum, Italy can't handle it and the penalty is given. Parra knocks the ball through the posts from about 10 metres.

PENALTY: Italy 3-8 France

18 mins: France pile forward. It has to be a try doesn't it? No. Aurelien Rougerie takes the crash ball and is inches from touching the ball down with an outstretched arm but a despairing Italian boot knocks it out of his hands. Italy have a five metre scrum underneath their own posts. Pressure.

17 mins: France win the ball again at an Italian scrum. The home side are on the back foot again.

15 mins: Italy 3-5 France Well that was coming. The ball is spread wide to Vincent Clerc, who has loads of space. He chips it over Canale and dives over for the opening try. Nice. Here's Parra with the conversion but he can't nail it.

Try graphic
15 mins: TRY Italy 3-5 France

13 mins: This is a hard game between two hard sides and the physios are being kept very busy. Oh hang on... France intercept and Italy are under big pressure.

11 mins: France are enjoying a lot of possession on halfway but they are not making any ground. Good defence from Italy. Fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc is snared in midfield and the ball is turned over. Italy outside centre Gonzalo Canale kicks it away, though. Criminal. The ball bounces in goal and France can regroup.

9 mins: More scrum nonsense. The French front row are given a stern warning by Lawrence. Surprise, surprise this one takes a while before it is completed. And the French hook it back, they've won it against the head. That will make them feel a bit better.

7 mins: Orquera is penalised for tackling Yannick Jauzion off the ball. Medard steps up to bang the ball to the corner but he makes an absolute horlicks of it, the ball squirts off his left foot and limps into 10 touch, about 10 metres further down the field. He won't want to remember that.

4 mins: Italy are enjoying scrum time at the moment. Two scrums and twice France are penalised. Either the French are in trouble or referee Bryce Lawrence is too fussy.

2 mins: No worries for Mirco Bergamasco, the kick flies through the posts and Italy take an early lead.

PENALTY: Italy 3-0 France

1 min:A sloppy start by France. Parra knocks-on from the kick-off and after Italy pile forward from the opening scrum, France skipper Thierry Dusautoir is pinged for offside. Penalty in front of the sticks.

1430: A perfectly-observed minute's silence in memory of the victims of the Japanese earthquake... now Orquera to get us going.

1429: Your team line-ups:
Italy: Andrea Masi; Tommaso Benvenuti, Gonzalo Canale, Gonzalo Garcia, Mirco Bergamasco; Luciano Orquera, Fabio Semenzato; Andrea Lo Cicero, Carlo Festuccia, Martin Castrogiovanni, Santiao Dellape, Carlo Del Fava, Alessandro Zanni, Robert Barbieri, Sergio Parisse (captain).
Replacements: Leonardo Ghiraldini, Salvatore Perugini, Quintin Geldenhuys, Paul Derbyshire, Pablo Canavosio, Kris Burton, Luke McLean.

France: Maxime Medard; Yoann Huget, Aurelien Rougerie, Yannick Jauzion, Vincent Clerc; Francois Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra; Sylvain Marconnet, William Servat, Nicolas Mas, Julien Pierre, Lionel Nallet, Thierry Dusautoir (captain), Julien Bonnaire, Sebastien Chabal.
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado, Luc Ducalcon, Jerome Thion, Imanol Harinordoquy, Julien Tomas, Damien Traille, Clement Poitrenaud.

1428: I do like those two anthems. The preliminaries are over, let's get it on.

1423: It's a sunny day in Rome and the France team are waiting patiently on the Stadio Flaminio steps as Italy take their time in coming out of the dressing. One of my colleagues has just suggested that the anthems could be the best part of this match. Harsh. Very harsh. Here we go then... time to sing along.

Italy coach Nick Mallett on BBC One on his future: "That depends on the Federation. I have enjoyed this job and we have seen a decent improvement. Four years is quite a long time at the top and they may feel that they need a change of voice."

Jeremy Guscott
BBC rugby union pundit Jeremy Guscott: "If Italy can perform like they did against Ireland and Wales, then they will push France close."

1420: Azzurri team news. Mallett has made wholesale changes to his starting line-up. Luciano Orquera starts at fly-half, with full-back Andrea Masi, centre Gonzalo Garcia, wing Tommaso Benvenuti, lock Carlo Antonio Del Fava, prop Andrea Lo Cicero and hooker Carlo Festuccia all coming in.

1416: To Italy then. Mallett's men are looking for their first win of this year's championship and are facing the possibility of finishing bottom of the pile for the fourth year in a row. They came close against Ireland and Wales but a lack of cutting edge was their downfall. It's probably best not to mention the defeat at Twickenham. They've now lost nine of their last 10 Test matches. Doesn't look good, does it?

1413: It will be interesting to see how Chabal gets on today. Is he a spent force, or did he just have an off day at Twickenham? Lievremont is sure that the hirsute Racing Metro forward still has something to offer. "I watched the [England] game again," said Lievremont. "Chabal's performance, as well as Clement Poitrenaud's and Yoann Huget's, did not seem disastrous to me." So there we are then.

Text in your views on 81111 (UK)
Anon via text: "Pro's day down the golf club with a Scotsman winning, premonition for tomorrow perhaps? Hopefully, as I'm going to Twickenham for it!! Fancying France today, 33-12 with Chabal hammering home a duo.. "

1410: France have made four changes to the side that lost to England last time out. Toulouse full-back Maxime Medard is fit again and takes the 15 jersey from Clement Poitrenaud. Julien Bonnaire comes in on the open-side flank, Imanol Harinordoquy drops to the bench, while Sylvain Marconnet comes into the front row. Number eight Sebastien Chabal surprisingly retains his place despite a pretty ineffectual display against England. I wouldn't tell him that to his face, though. Scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili is ruled out with injury, Morgan Parra taking his place.

1406: So first up we've got Italy v France at the Stadio Flaminio, which has been a happy hunting ground for the French in the Six Nations. France have a reputation as bad travellers but that rule does not apply to when they visit the Eternal City. Les Bleus have won all 11 matches against Italy since the Six Nations started, scoring 228 points in the five games in Rome at an average of 45.6 points per game. Can't see that changing today, can you?

1401: How can you watch this afternoon's action then? Well coverage has just started on BBC One, with the option of the referee's microphone on the Red Button for both games. The Wales v Ireland match is also on BBC Radio 5 live sports extra. All of that is available in the console at the top of this page.

Former England international Austin Healey on Twitter: "Predictions: Italy by 1 big call, Wales by 3, England by 22."

1357: This is where you come in. You know the drill by now, I need predictions, hopes, fears, opinions, where you are watching the matches, and who with. Get in touch on Twitter (via hashtag #BBCSixNations ), or direct on @markorlovac or you can text me on 81111 (UK) with SIX NATIONS before your message. I'm waiting...

1352: France, Wales and Ireland all have the chance to put pressure on Six Nations table-toppers England, who play Scotland tomorrow, so by my reckoning at least one of that trio will be effectively out of the title hunt at the end of today. For one of those countries they'll be looking for someone to 'Take Me Home', their exit will be 'In The Air Tonight' and all will be hoping that the Scots win at Twickenham 'Against All Odds' on Sunday. I'm back to the Phil Collins thing again. Sorry.

1348: Hello you. A warm welcome to weekend four of this year's championship. We've got Italy v France at 1430 GMT with Wales hosting Ireland at 1700 GMT at the Millennium Stadium. Not a bad line-up for a Saturday afternoon is it? Grab something cold and fizzy, settle down and enjoy. It should be a good one.

1345: Italy's Nick Mallett spoke of his regret, France's Marc Lievremont said he was disappointed while Scotland's Andy Robinson even suggested he would speak to the authorities. I know how you feel boys, Phil Collins announcing his retirement hit me pretty hard too. Luckily we've got a pivotal weekend in the Six Nations to perk us up. Let the weekend begin.

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see also
Italy 22-21 France
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Yachvili ruled out of Italy game
10 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales 19-13 Ireland
12 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Hook urged to take his chance
11 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Roof open for Wales-Ireland clash
11 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Wing Bowe targets bragging rights
11 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Irish foul play a worry - Gatland
10 Mar 11 |  Welsh
O'Callaghan focuses on discipline
08 Mar 11 |  Irish

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