The Independent

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Wales salvage dismal Six Nations campaign in Italy

The first win of their Six Nations campaign was recorded by Wales after they beat Italy 29-17 at Stadio Olimpico. Warren Gatland’s team arrived in Rome with the wooden spoon a realistic prospect following successive defeats against Ireland, Scotland and England. But Italy, who wasted a host of chances, now look destined to finish bottom of the Six Nations table for an 18th time as Wales climbed off the basement.

Early tries by wing Rio Dyer and full-back Liam Williams rewarded a dominant early display, then a penalty try underpinne­d an impressive first-half performanc­e that saw Wales build a 19-point advantage. No 8 Taulupe Faletau’s 50thminute touchdown secured a bonus point, while fly half Owen Williams kicked a penalty and two conversion­s, although it was his half-back partner Rhys Webb who excelled as Wales’ premier performer on a first start since October 2020.

Flanker Sebastian Negri and centre Juan Ignacio Brex touched down for the home side, with Tommy Allan slotting a penalty two conversion­s, but Italy’s poor discipline saw two players sinbinned and Wales took the spoils despite the Azzurri dominating late on. Wales head to Paris next for an appointmen­t with France and, while that assignment is a daunting one, they can at least travel with a degree of confidence after claiming a first win since Gatland returned for his second stint as head coach.

Haaland cuts Arsenal’s lead on dramatic day in Premier League

Erling Haaland’s second-half penalty was enough to earn Manchester City a 1-0 victory over Crystal Palace at Selhurst Park. Haaland’s league-leading 28th top-flight goal this season was redemption for a squandered opportunit­y before the break that saw the Norwegian striker fire over the crossbar from close range.

Palace did well to frustrate the visitors for 78 minutes but were undone after Michael Olise brought down Ilkay Gundogan to earn the spot-kick. The result snapped a four-game unbeaten streak at home for the hosts, who remain in search of their first win in 2023. A brace from Harry Kane helped Tottenham put a miserable week behind them with an entertaini­ng 3-1 win over Nottingham Forest. Son Heung-min was also on target for Spurs before Joe Worrall grabbed a late consolatio­n for the visitors and, while Fraser Forster saved a penalty from Andre Ayew in stoppage time, it was a comfortabl­e and much-needed victory for Antonio Conte’s side.

Dwight McNeil’s goal after just 35 seconds secured another Sean Dyche trademark 1-0 win at Goodison Park as Everton climbed two points clear of the Premier League relegation zone by ending Brentford’s long unbeaten run. The winger proved effective at both ends of the pitch as his third of the season was accompanie­d by a second-half goalline clearance as they recorded a third victory by a single goal in four home games.

Jack Harrison rescued a point for Leeds United in a 2-2 home draw against Brighton but it was not enough to lift his side out of the Premier League relegation zone. Harrison curled home a 78th-minute equaliser having earlier scored an own goal as Leeds twice hit back to snatch a crucial point against their highflying visitors. Alexis Mac Allister’s header was cancelled out by Patrick Bamford’s stunning equaliser before the break and Harrison made amends for turning the ball into his own net in the second half with another brilliant finish. PA

Raducanu and Draper march on at Indian Wells

Emma Raducanu eased into the last 32 at Indian Wells with a 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 victory over Magda Linette. Raducanu overcame injury doubts and illness to beat Danka Kovinic in her opener at Indian Wells, and the British No 1 had to call for a physio after battling back from an early deficit.

Poland’s Linette, 21st in the WTA rankings and 55 places higher than Raducanu, took the first break of the match for a 3-1 firstset lead. But Raducanu fought back from 4-1 down to level at 4-4 before calling for a physio at 6-5 ahead.

Both players, somewhat bizarrely, lost their serve to love as the opening set went into overtime. Raducanu, who beat Linette in their only previous meeting at the 2022 Korea Open, won the tie-break 7-3 to establish an advantage after 62 minutes on court.

The odds were really stacked against Linette when Raducanu broke serve to lead 3-1 in the second set. She comfortabl­y closed out victory against this year’s Australian Open semi-finalist and

will now meet either Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic or Brazil’s Beatriz Haddad Maia in the last 32.

Jack Draper beat Dan Evans 6-4 6-2 in an all-British secondroun­d match. It was a big win for Draper, 27 spots below the 29th-placed Evans on the ATP rankings and marks an upturn in his fortunes after illness and fitness issues in recent months. He will now play Britain’s most successful ever men’s player Andy Murray after the Scot won his second-round match against Radu Albot 6-4 6-3. PA

Scheffler leads Players heading into final day

Scottie Scheffler leads the Players Championsh­ip by two shots after the third round at Sawgrass. Scheffler is on 14 under after shooting an impressive 65, with Min Woo Lee holding second on his own with 12 under. The American Tom Hoge set a new course record with a 10-under-par round of 62.

Tommy Fleetwood and Aaron Rai are five off the lead while the American Scheffler will return to the world No 1 position if he wins the tournament.

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 ?? (EPA) ?? Ita l y, who wasted a host of chances, now l ook destined to finish bottom of the Six Nations tab le
(EPA) Ita l y, who wasted a host of chances, now l ook destined to finish bottom of the Six Nations tab le
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