Six Nations - France cruise to win over Italy
Sat, 04 Feb 18:20:00 2012
Les Bleus' backline were clinical with Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Malzieu, Vincent Clerc and debutant Wesley Fofana all dotting down after a spirited resistance from Italy proved not enough to deny Philippe Saint-Andre's team.
Italy coach Jacques Brunel's organisation of the Azzurri saw them put in an impressive display, but the visitors faded in the second half as France ended the game strongly having made their chances count throughout.
Italy shaded the first 20 minutes of the game with some patient build-up play which saw them unafraid to hold onto the ball and go through the phases, driving the French back into their own territory repeatedly.
Dmitri Yachvili and Kris Burton exchanged early kicks, the French scrum-half slotting a penalty and the Italian number 10 a drop-goal as things remained close. Despite Italy's bright start however it was France who scored the game's opening try, capitalising with ruthlessness as Rougerie exploited a gap in the away team's defence to glide through and between the posts.
news itw V.Clerc
Italy's response was immediate and if it were not for an unfortunate knock-on from Burton they may well have replied with a try of their own after the re-start. They were limited to just a penalty for the remainder of the half though, which Burton himself scored.
A moment of brilliance from Malzieu just before half-time then extended France's lead to 15-6 at the interval. Breaking from the base of a scrum, Louis Picamoles fed the winger who handed off a pair of challenges, stepped inside a third and then held off one more to score magnificently.
Italy emerged after the interval still intent on taking the game to their opponents and Luke McLean was denied a run at the posts by a Rougerie tackle, before Clerc opened up a more comfortable advantage for the French.
A chip forward from Francois Trinh-Duc was helped along by Rougerie, and winger Clerc was on hand to gather and cross the line unopposed.
Italy's replacement fly-half Tobias Botes kicked a penalty to keep some faint hope, but when Quintin Geldenhuys was sin binned inside the final 10 minutes France made their numerical advantage count.
Spreading the ball wide to Fofana on the left, he was able to cap his international debut with a well-taken try in the corner as France went some way to avenging their defeat at the hands of the Italians in last year's tournament, while at the same time kicking off their 2012 tilt with a convincing victory.Eurosport