Roberts retains title hope

Wales centre Jamie Roberts insists the reigning Six Nations champions can retain their crown despite their recent struggles.

After winning a third Grand Slam in eight years in 2012, Wales embarked on a losing streak and were in danger of equalling their worst ever run of 10 defeats in a row.

Wales were early favourites in the 2013 Six Nations Betting but kicked off their campaign with a disappointing 30-22 defeat by Ireland in Cardiff and looked set to continue their slump. However, they dug deep to record a first championship win in Paris since 2005 and head into their match against Italy on Saturday with renewed confidence.

Like Wales, Italy have inflicted defeat on France in recent weeks and are becoming an imposing force on home soil. Wales interim coach Rob Howley this week described Rome as “one of the toughest places” to play in Europe and the betting at Betfair is closer than perhaps previously thought.

Wales will be desperate to record a second successive win before kicking back to watch England take on France at Twickenham on Saturday evening. Roberts believes a victory for Les Bleus would blow the competition wide open.

“England are in a strong position with two out of their three remaining games at home. I would like to think the French will turn them over at Twickenham on Saturday,” he said.

“But we are still very much in with a shout. If we had lost last weekend it would have been different, but now we are one win from two and everything hinges on the next couple of games.”

Success for Wales in Italy coupled with an England defeat would leave Howley’s team level on points with their rivals going into the final two weeks. Should the two sides win their penultimate match, their clash in Cardiff on March 16 would become a title decider.

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