Six Nations

France blank out Italy

2015-03-15 19:22
France (AFP)

Rome - Yoann Maestri and Mathieu Bastareaud ran in the only tries of the game as France whitewashed Italy 29-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday in what could go down as one of the worst Six Nations matches of all time.

France travelled to the Italian capital looking to reclaim the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy having lost to the Azzurri on their two previous visits to Rome.

Uner-fire France coach Philippe Saint-Andre ultimately achieved his objective of seeing his side get back to winning ways following successive defeats in this campaign to Ireland and Wales.

"It's a great result for the team," said France's South African-born full-back Scott Spedding.

"We had a lot of pressure on us, I'm just very happy for the team, supporters and back room staff."

But despite the one-sided scoreline, the display from both sides -- who will meet in Pool D of the World Cup in England this autumn -- was far from world class.

For once in this tournament, the Stadio Olimpico was deadly silent for long spells as Italy, seemingly filled with confidence after a 22-19 win over Scotland two weeks ago, failed to deliver on the promise shown at Murrayfield.

"We had good confidence going into the game," Italy centre Andrea Masi told BBC.

"But today we struggled controlling the ball on set-piece and when you give the ball to the French team so easily it is normal to come under pressure.

"We need a reaction against Wales next week. The last two years we have played in Rome we haven't played our best rugby and our supporters deserve a better show from us. We must stay positive and believe in ourselves, believe that we are able to play the type of good rugby we did against Scotland."

France, who will face England in their final match of the tournament next week, hardly fared better.

France went into the half-time interval with a nine-point lead thanks to penalties from fly-half Camille Lopez (two) and full-back Scott Spedding.

But both Lopez and opposite number Tommaso Allan, and also Luciano Orquera, missed what looked like textbook penalty attempts in the opening half before Allan was replaced by Orquera in the 14th minute after suffering a suspected groin injury.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel had sprung a surprise before kick-off by naming Allan in his starting XV after dropping New Zealand born Kelly Haimona from his matchday 23 altogether.

Orquera's first job was to hit a penalty from just over the halfway line after an infringement on Parisse as he jumped for the ball, but although his effort went the distance it came off the crossbar.

There were little in the way of running, flowing rugby in the opening half.

Noa Nakaitaci ran 40 metres with ball in hand before being hauled down by Italy captain Sergio Parisse, who will likely want to consign the game in which he took his caps tally to a record 112 to the dustbin.

At the end of the half, Lopez, then Spedding burst through with mazy runs past the Italian 22-metre line before being stopped in their tracks.

To their credit, France tried to make amends after the interval.

A Parisse foul handed Les Bleus another penalty on 41 minutes, with Plisson's effort worming its way through the posts to give France a 12-point lead.

Spedding's arcing run through the Italian defence was a shining nugget in the mire. Although he was stopped before the line, from the breakdown wing Yoann Huget set up Maestri for a simple run in from 10 metres on 45 minutes.

Plisson added the conversion for a 19-point lead and the replacement fly-half made it three from three attempts with another penalty just before the hour.

The game was effectively over but France were intent on wrapping a silver lining around their performance.

The visitors won a penalty in the final minute after Italy nicked the ball illegally. France went for the tap and Bastareaud took possession close to the line to barge his way over for his third try in 34 matches.

Plisson added the conversion to finish with 10 points from the boot.

Read more on:    italy  |  france  |  six nations  |  scott spedding  |  rugby

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