France: (23) 35
Tries: Thomas, Ollivon, Alldritt, Ntamack, Serin Cons: Ntamack, Jalibert Pens: Ntamack 2
Italy: (10) 22
Tries: Minozzi, Zani, Bellini Cons: Allan 2 Pens: Allan
After the second weekend of this year’s Six Nations tournament, France find them selves sitting top of the pile on points difference from Ireland after a bonus point win over Italy in Paris on Sunday.
The hosts followed on from were they left off against England the pervious weekend with tries from Teddy Thomas who bounced on a well placed Romain Ntamack grubber kick and Skipper Charles Ollivon backed up a brilliant break from French scrum half Antonie Dupont to cross from close range. All this was before Italy had a chance to grow into the game, however they struck back with a well worked try for Matteo Minozzi, Thomas making the critical mistake of gifting the Italian to much space on the wing to score in the left corner.
With Romain Ntamack having an off day with the boot, a penalty goal from Italy’s Tommaso Allen to add to his earlier conversation brought the visitors to within 3 points of the French , only for Italian front rower Giosue Zilocchi to be caught off his feet and allowing Ntamack the easiest of three pointers and increase the French lead from under the Italian sticks.
It was the Italian indiscipline that was allowing the French to control the game and after another school boy error the French opted to kick for the corner and from the resulting line out young Dupont continued to add to his early claim for player of the tournament as his long pass found Gregory Alldritt who crossed for the home sides third try of the game.
With Storm Ciara starting to close in the second half started slowly, with Allan’s early penalty chance that he sent wide the only sign of points. However, that changed as Ntamack took an neat inside pass off Thomas at pace to beat a handful of defenders on his way to a bonus point try for the French.
This is where the issues start for new French coach Fabien Galthie as like last weeks game against England he watched his side appear to have the game won in their heads and lose focus again allowing the visitors to hit back with another try as Federico Zani went over for Italy from close range.
A bit of individual magic from replacement scrum half Baptiste Serin was enough to earn France another try as his quick tap and Side step before regaining his own kick to score briefly woke up the home side but it wasn’t enough to stop the cracks starting to show in what as so far been a rock solid new French defence.
With some robust last ditch defence keeping the Azzurri out, eventually they found one last way through as Mattia Ballini crossed for the final try of the game.
Next up France travel to last years Grand Slam Winners Wales on the 22nd Feb who will be hurting after their defeat to Ireland at the weekend, while Italy will welcome Scotland to Rome earlier that day.
France: Bouthier; Thomas, Vincent, Fickou, Rattez; Ntamack, Dupont; Baille, Marchand, Haouas, Le Roux, Willemse, Cros, Ollivon (c), Alldritt.
Replacements: Mauvaka, Poirot, Bamba, Taofifenua, Palu, Woki, Serin, Jalibert.
Italy: Hayward; Bellini, Morisi, Canna, Minozzi; Allan, Braley; Lovotti, Bigi (c), Zilocchi, Zanni, Cannone, Polledri, Negri, Steyn.
Replacements: Zani, Fischetti, Riccioni, Budd, Ruzza, Licata, Palazzani, Bisegni.