Tue, Mar 17, 2015 - Page 20 News List

France silence Italy 29-0 in Six Nations

DIFFICULT DEFENSE:Italy coach Jacques Brunel said France, who have only conceded two tries during the competition, ‘built their victory on those foundations’


France’s Mathieu Bastareaud, center, is tackled by Italy’s Francesco Minto, right, and Quintin Geldenhuys during their Six Nations match at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Sunday.

Photo: EPA

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 in the history of the competition.

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

Under-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.

However, despite the one-sided scoreline, the display from both sides — who will meet in Pool D of the World Cup in England later this year — 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.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel tried to play down his side’s sorry performance, saying: “We missed early chances to put points on the board and over the game we lacked efficiency in the lineouts and the mauls.

“The rain wasn’t a problem. The French defense was, although we knew that already. They had only conceded two tries during the tournament ... and they built their victory on those foundations. That put us in difficulty, especially in the second half,” Brunel said.

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

However, Saint-Andre was keen to see things in a positive light.

“We have to congratulate the players’ efforts throughout the week. They took the match by the scruff of the neck in what were somewhat trying circumstances,” Saint-Andre said.

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

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

Noa Nakaitaci ran 40m with the ball 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 22m line before being stopped in their tracks.

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

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

Spedding’s arcing run through the Italian defense 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 10m after 45 minutes.

Plisson added the conversion for a 19-point lead and the replacement flyhalf 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.

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