Paris - France and Italy came away from their tight Six Nations clash at the Stade de France on Saturday equally satisfied.
hosts snatched a 23-21 success thanks to Jules Plisson's penalty four
minutes from the end but both France coach Guy Noves and his Italy
counterpart Jacques Brunel claimed to be pleased.
interesting when you win, even though our aim is to work on consistency
and improving things," said Noves, who succeeded Philippe Saint-Andre
following France's World Cup quarter-final exit against New Zealand last
"We started from a long way back with only a short
period to prepare, it's a young team. If we could have won by more we
wouldn't have deprived ourselves of that but Italy could also have won
so we're not complaining.
"We'll take the enthusiasm we showed in
some moments, although we lacked lucidity, and for sure there was a lack
of tempo in the first half. We left points on the field and were weak
"That allowed Italy to dominate the ball and exploit
some of our weaknesses. We were in difficulty at that point, but the
enthusiasm was there."
Both sides picked four debutants to start the match as well as two more from each team coming on from the bench.
match was close throughout and Italy even had a late chance to snatch
the victory but captain Sergio Parisse badly skewed his drop-goal
attempt with time up.
"Of course I'm disappointed because I tried the drop-goal and hoped to succeed," said Parisse, Italy's enigmatic lynchpin.
"I was in the pocket at that moment, I was well placed to try. I took the initiative, I took responsibility.
"If it goes over it's a good decision but if it doesn't then we should've done something else."
French coach Brunel, who is taking charge of his final Six Nations
tournament with Italy before likely being replaced by current Harlequins
coach Conor O'Shea in the summer, was still pleased with his charges.
"Given the score at the end we're disappointed to lose the game, of course," he said.
it could've been different for us. We showed desire and ambition to
take on difficult opponents; we showed character and an identity.
"That was our starting point and throughout the game we matched France in terms of intensity and ability, and that's important.
"Although we had some young players without much experience, we showed that and we'll take the positives."
New Zealand-born replacement Kelly Haimona kicked a penalty six minutes
from the end, Italy led 21-20 and Noves admitted he was worried his
tenure would begin with a historic first home defeat to the Azzurri in
the Six Nations.
"When we conceded that penalty six minutes from
the end (I was worried) but thankfully Jules landed his penalty from 50
metres and right out on the touchline.
"At that moment, yes (I was
worried) but it changes nothing. Although I'm delighted by the win
because the team is young, the criticism from me and my staff would be
the same regardless of the outcome of the match."