Chabal the colossus lifts Gallic gloom

Italy 8 France 50: Mane man wreaks havoc as France bounce back from Twickenham torture to leave Italy with the wooden spoon
Click to follow

France bounced back from their Twickenham drubbing in emphatic style as a seven-try romp here condemned sorry Italy to the wooden spoon and a fourth Six Nations whitewash. Les Bleus came to Rome licking their wounds after a nightmare showing in the 34-10 loss to England last weekend, but they made partial amends by inflicting yet another heavy defeat on the Azzurri.

A three-try blitz in six first-half minutes gave the French a 25-3 lead at the break, with Sébastien Chabal, François Trinh-Duc and Maxime Médard scoring. The visitors did not let up after the interval as Cedric Heymans, Lionel Nallet, Médard again and Julien Malzieu scored to maintain France's unbeaten record against their trans-Alpine rivals in the Six Nations. Their kicker, Morgan Parra, ended with 15 points.

Italy, for their part, look to have gone backwards. Their defence went AWOL yesterday and their only points came via Sergio Parisse's try and an Andrea Marcato penalty. By the 13th minute France were already six points clear thanks to two early penalties by the lively scrum-half Parra. Marcato kicked one of two penalty attempts soon after but the floodgates then opened.

France's first try came in the 25th minute and it was typical Chabal. The crowd could have been watching Jonah Lomu as the Sale second-rower, collecting a pass from Thierry Dusautoir after Yannick Jauzion had fielded a steepling up-and-under, fended off tackles by Paul Griffen and Mirco Bergamasco before picking himself up off his feet and barging over from close range. Three minutes later, Trinh-Duc sold the Azzurri defence a lovely dummy and flew around the attempted tackles of Griffen and Giulio Rubini to touch down.

Worse was to come for Italy. Griffen fumbled a high ball and Trinh-Duc pounced before passing to Dusautoir, who then laid on Médard for the easiest of finishes. Parra converted the first and third tries, and France had a vice-like grip on proceedings. The Stadio Flaminio had scraps to get excited about, such as a break from deep by Mirco Bergamasco just before half-time, but that came to nought.

The French nailed their fourth try within two minutes of the restart. The flanker Mauro Bergamasco attempted a grubber kick on his own 22 but the ball deflected off a France boot into the hands of Heymans, who gleefully romped over. Parra added the extras, quickly followed by his third penalty, and it was 35-3 to the visitors.

Chabal, who had a field day, was brought down close to the Italy line at the end of a 50-metre dash, while Florian Fritz was bundled into touch by Parisse as he tried to ground on the left wing.

The two captains then traded tries within a matter of minutes as the crowd were treated to a points-fest. Nallet was adjudged to have grounded in the 55th minute under a mass of bodies before Parisse, inevitably, got Italy's sole try when he ran on to Mauro Bergamasco's pass to charge over. Médard, a bright spark in an otherwise miserable Six Nations for France, grabbed his second try of the day in the 70th minute and Malzieu completed the rout at the death.

Italy: A Marcato; G Rubini, G Canale, Mirco Bergamasco, M Pratichetti (R Quartaroli, 49); L McLean (L Orquera, 76; F Sbaraglini, 80), P Griffen (P Canavosio, 71); S Perugini, L Ghiraldini, C Nieto (M Castrogiovanni, 61), S Dellape (C Antonio Del Fava, 54), M Bortolami (J Sole, 74), A Zanni, Mauro Bergamasco, S Parisse (capt).

France: D Traille; M Médard, F Fritz (M Bastareaud, 65), Y Jauzion, C Heymans (J Malzieu, 76); F Trinh-Duc, M Parra (F Michalak, 54); F Barcella (S Marconnet, 79), D Szarzewski (W Servat, 54), S Marconnet (T Domingo, 48), L Nallet (capt; J Thion, 76), S Chabal, T Dusautoir, J Bonnaire, I Harinordoquy (L Picamoles, 58).

Referee: A Rolland (Ireland).