The match in 30 seconds
France remain unbeaten and travel to Cardiff in a fortnight looking for a third straight win. Little was expected after a turgid first-half affair, with kickers from both sides, Jean-Marc Doussain and Tomasso Allan profligate from the deck early on. The second-half was better as France showed ambition, scoring three tries in nine minutes between the 45th and 51st minute to rouse the Stade de France. First it was No 8 Louis Picamoles bolting from a maul to power. Minutes later, Wesley Fofana picked up from the base of a ruck to scamper down the wing to score, and finally debutant Hugo Bonneval finished off a classic French move started by Fofana and finished off by debutant Hugo Bonneval. With 10 minutes to go the game took a murkier turn as both Rabah Slimani and Michele Rizzo were shown red to become the first duo to be sent off since 1992. With France down to 13 men, with Vahaamahina in the sin-bin, Tommaso Iannone snuck in late on to give the scoreline a modicum of respectability.
France 30 (9)
Pens: Doussain 3 Cons: Doussain 3
Tries: Picamole, Fofana, Bonneval
Italy 10 (3)
Pen: Allan. Try: Iannone. Con Orquera
– When Rabah Slimani and Michele Rizzo were shown red after 70 minutes, they became the first pair to be sent off since Vincent Moscato and Gregoire Lascube were sent off against England in 1992
– France ran further with the ball, carrying the ball 426m, while Italy ran 367m but France were far more potent
– Surprisingly, given the scoreline, Italy had much more of the possession, 58% compared to 42% for France. It was similar for territory, France 39% and Italy 61%
– Top tackler on the day was France fly-half Jules Plisson with 12, Yannick Nyanga, Bernard Le Roux, Martin Castrogiovanni, Joshua Furno, Leonardo Ghiraldini and Francesco Minto had 10. Wesley Fofana made the most metres, 96, followed closely by Brice Dulin with 82m. For Italy, Luke McLean ran 81m
– France made eight clean breaks and beat 20 defenders, compared to Italy who made three clean breaks and beat 18 defenders.
– Sebastien Vahaamahina was on the pitch less than three minutes before being yellow carded and missing the rest of the game
– Bernard Le Roux, the French openside flanker left the field with a head injury and will be assessed by the medical team.
– France will have been buoyed by three tries in six minutes but they were pretty ordinary outside that flurry. The French pack will not have enjoyed being driven backwards by Castrogiovanni and a grizzled Azzurri pack in the first-half and even though they improved in the after the break they will know they will need to improve against a fired up Welsh front-row.
– Les Bleus did show that in runners like Wesley Fofana, Brice Dulin, Yoann Huget and Hugo Bonneval that they do possess players with flair, a lost characteristic of French rugby in recent years. They need to provide a platform and game plan to involve these players and not regress to playing a 10-man game
– Italy, without being outplayed, still ended up on the back of a 27-point loss. Despite Jacques Brunel purporting to play a more expansive game, it was only in the last few minutes, when France were down to 13-men that Italy managed to dent the French defence. They need more guile and ambition outwide if they are to match last year’s two wins.
– With Michele Rizzo sent-off, the Azzurri will not want to lose their discipline in what is likely to be a key game against Scotland in Rome
RW’s proposed France XV v Wales:
Brice Dulin; Yoann Huget, Mathieu Bastareaud, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Jean-Marc Doussain; Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Yannick Nyanga, Damien Chouly Louis Picamoles,
After such a comprehensive win, the only change is for Chouly to replace the injured Le Roux. With Bastareaud softening up the Welsh defence, they can bring on the exciting Gael Fickou when the game breaks up. Machenaud is pushing Doussain who keeps his place for his place kicking. Plisson impressed and keeps his place in front of the returning Francois Trinh-Duc
RW’s proposed Italy XV v Scotland:
Luke McLean; Tommaso Iannone, Michele Campagnaro, Alberto Sgarbi, Leonardo Sarto; Luciano Orquera, Tobias Botes; Alberto de Marchi, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Martin Castrogiovanni, Quintin Geldenhuys, Joshua Furno, Alessandro Zanni, Sergio Parisse
Allan has looked a little green for international rugby so the experienced Orquera comes in to boss the try-shy backs. He is accompanied by Tobias Botes who looked sharper than Edoardo Gori. In the pack, Alessandro Zanni returns after a broken nose incurred against Wales.