France vs. Italy: 5 Lessons Learned from 6 Nations Clash
The wait goes on for Italy’s first win in France in the Six Nations. The Azzurri were never ahead in Sunday's contest and ended up losing 30-10, but somehow they will feel the result is harsh on them.
France blew hot and cold once again, with the key difference between them and their visitors being that they were able to convert their try-scoring chances when they cropped up.
Here’s what we learned.
1. Weather the Early French Storm and You’re in the Game
In Round 1 of the championship, France enjoyed two lucky bounces of the ball to record two early tries and give England a mountain to climb.
Even then, England almost managed it as Les Bleus fell to pieces for the next 60 minutes but held on for victory.
Italy managed to hold them out in the opening minutes as Louis Picamoles tried to batter his way through. It took France 26 minutes to open their account.
Even then, it was a penalty as their salvos both in the middle and out wide were repelled by fierce defence.
2. Italy’s Scrum Still a Weapon of Mass Destruction
Twice in the opening 20 minutes, the French scrum was bulldozed by Italy’s.
Both Alberto De Marchi and Martin Castrogiovanni had their much-vaunted French opponents on toast, once on French ball and again on their own put-in.
It’s not a sight the Stade de France crowd is used to seeing. It clearly got into the heads of the French as, at the next scrum, Jean-Marc Doussain was pinged for feeding the put-in.
3. Kicking Curse Costs Italy Dear
You can forgive Italy's Gonzalo Garcia his first miss when he took on a long kick that not many would have made, but the next three that went begging were eminently makeable.
Between them, Garcia and team-mate Tommy Allan kissed goodbye to nine points.
In contrast, Jean-Marc Doussain kicked three from his four first-half attempts and France led 9-3 at the break when they could easily have been losing 12-9.
4. Patchy France Need an 80-Minute Display
This French side is intensely frustrating. It was abysmal in the first half, looking neither willing nor capable of giving its game any width.
In the second half France threw the shackles off briefly with two quick tries after the break and a brilliant third that was sparked by Wesley Fofana’s interception. They retreated into their shell, leaving Italy to monopolise possession.
It’s as though Philippe Saint-Andre’s strategy is to take any tempo out of the game as soon as his side has a decent lead.
Against England it very nearly backfired and, had Italy been able to turn their time with the ball into points, France may well have come unstuck again.