France 30 Italy 10 match report: Wesley Fofana triggers second-half blitz as clinical France exact revenge

 

France underlined their Six Nations title credentials with a clinical performance to gain revenge over Italy for last year’s embarrassing defeat in the opening match.

That setback in Rome consigned Les Bleus to the wooden spoon for the first time since Italy were welcomed into the competition in 2000, but a blistering second-half spell in which Philippe Saint-André’s side ran in three second-half tries in the space of 10 minutes quickly erased the memory.

Centre Wesley Fofana was the star of the show, scoring one try and creating another to give France their second successive victory, despite a sluggish start. Only leading 9-3 at the break, No 8 Louis Picamoles, Fofana and a debut try from left-winger Hugo Bonneval settled nerves in the Stade de France to set up a crucial showdown with reigning champions Wales in Cardiff in the next round of fixtures. 

“We haven’t won two matches in a row since 2012, so that’s important,” said Saint-André. “We wore the Italians out a lot in the first half, even though we didn’t vary our play enough. In the second half we played very, very good rugby. We went from 9-3 to 30-3 in no time at all.”

Right-wing Tommaso Iannone claimed a late converted try for Italy, who have begun their campaign with two defeats and host Scotland next in a match that already seems certain to determine who will end the tournament with the wooden spoon.

“It’s a strange feeling, because for 60 or 70 minutes we were close to France’s level and at times even got on top,” said Jacques Brunel, the Azzurri’s head coach. “But those 10 minutes or so [in the second half] totally changed the game.”

In windy conditions, only the sharp bite of the weather prevented the fans from falling asleep in a scrappy opening half bereft of attacking rugby, and where just four out of 10 kicking opportunities were taken.  Scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain missed two and stand-off Jules Plisson was wide with a dropped-goal attempt.

The floodgates eventually opened three minutes into the second half when Picamoles picked up from the back of a maul and stretched over for his sixth international try. Opportunism from Fofana two minutes later extended their lead and the game was over as a contest when Fofana and Yoann Huget combined to set up Bonneval.  

The closing stages will be remembered for red cards rather than running rugby as South African referee Jaco Peyper sent off substitute props Michele Rizzo and Rabah Slimani. Rizzo started the skirmish with a head-butt, and when Slimani reacted in similar fashion, Peyper brandished red cards after conferring with his assistant Craig Joubert and consulting television replays.

They became the first players to be sent off in a Six Nations game since 2006 when Scotland lock Scott Murray was dismissed against Wales in Cardiff. It was the first double dismissal in Five or Six Nations rugby for 22 years, after French forwards Gregoire Lascube and Vincent Moscato were sent off against England.

Asked about the sendings-off, Saint-André said he needed to look at video footage, but Slimani and Rizzo will now face disciplinary hearings. It meant France were briefly reduced to 13 players following the earlier sin-binning of lock Sebastien Vahaamahina for kicking the ball away.

“The yellow card was very harsh,” Saint-André added. As for the two red cards, he replied that  he “just preferred to see the three good tries we scored”.

“Last week, the beginning of the second-half against England was terrible, so we were very focused to start well in the second-half. It was a good 60 minutes, but very disappointing for the last 20; we just didn’t have any ball.”

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas