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Six Nations: Ireland extend perfect record while England down Wales

Ireland overcame a dogged Italy to make it three victories from three games in Six Nations 2023, while England made it back-to-back wins after beating Wales in a scrappy encounter in Cardiff.

In Saturday's first game of round three, Andy Farrell's side were made to work hard for their 34-20 victory at the Stadio Olimpico but Ireland are now 1/5 To Win Outright the tournament, while they are 4/6 to complete the Grand Slam.

Although suffering a third straight defeat in this year's event, Italy will once again take positives from this performance and they remain fifth in the standings after Wales lost at home to England later on.

Warren Gatland's side went down 10-20 at home to England, who arguably should have scored more points given the amount of possession and territory they had during the contest at the Principality Stadium.

Ireland overcome Rome test

It may have looked like an easy victory for Ireland based on the scoreline, but they were given several scares by an expansive Italy side that were guilty of making errors when in good scoring positions.

James Ryan, Hugo Keenan, Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen (2) all crossed the whitewash as the visitors ran in five tries, while Stephen Varney and Pierre Bruno scored for the Azzurri.

Italy were trailing by just seven points at the break, having seen Bruno race through for an intercept try in stoppage-time to put the scores at 17-24, but Ireland's resolute defending stopped the hosts from crossing again.

Farrell's side remain top of the standings following their third straight bonus-point win and are on course for their first Six Nations title since 2018, a year they also achieved the Grand Slam.

Up next for Ireland is a trip to Scotland on 12th March, a clash that could potentially be a title-decider should the Scots pick up a victory at France on Sunday.

Gregor Townsend's side are 5/1 To Win Outright Six Nations 2023 ahead of that trip to the Stade de France, while the Grand Slam can be backed at 10/1 for the Scots.

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Red Rose grind out win

England hadn't won at the Principality Stadium since the 2017 Six Nations but Saturday's clash in Cardiff presented them with arguably their best chance in a while to change that record, given the issues Wales are facing both on and off the pitch.

Gatland's troops had only mustered 17 points in their first two matches, both of which ended in defeat to Ireland and Scotland, while they had also conceded 69 points and were seen as easy prey.

But the Red Rose failed to showcase the attacking play so many supporters yearn for and it was another pragmatic approach from Steve Borthwick's troops, who battled to a 20-10 win.

In truth, England were never really tested in defence and the one try Wales scored, through Louis Rees-Zammit, was a gift as Max Malins' pass was intercepted.

Anthony Watson, Kyle Sinckler and Ollie Lawrence grabbed a try each for the visitors but only one of those was converted as Owen Farrell had a day to forget with the boot - making just two of his six kicks.

It may not have been the prettiest and most dynamic display from England, but they got the job done and that victory moved them level on points with second-placed Scotland.

Next up for England is the visit of Les Bleus on 11th March and Farrell, when speaking on BBC One, admits there is still plenty of improvement needed from the Red Rose if they are going to win that encounter.

He said: "We're right at the start. We've got another big team coming next time back at Twickenham [France] and we've got a lot of work to do.

"There's bits starting to show but we're laying some foundations at the minute. We want to keep building on it all."

England are 20/1 To Win Outright Six Nations 2023, but this does look like a tall order given they have to then travel to Ireland after the clash against France at Twickenham.

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