Faltering French fall victim to Roman conquerors again

Italy 23 France 18

Stadio Olimpico

Forwards Sergio Parisse and Martin Castrogiovanni scored a try each as Italy dealt a massive blow to French Six Nations hopes.

Just as two years ago, when Italy stunned France with a 22-21 win in Rome, the French once again wasted a lead, having gone into the break 15-13 ahead thanks to tries from No 8 Louis Picamoles and winger Benjamin Fall. But the cunning and faultless kicking of fly-half Luciano Orquera helped Italy fight back in the second half.

Orquera set up both the Italian tries, converted them, and added a penalty and a drop goal to cap a superb individual performance. France must now regroup if they are to beat Wales at Stade de France next Saturday to keep their title hopes alive.

"It's hard to say what went wrong, but you have to congratulate them, they started better than us," France flyhalf Frédéric Michalak said. "We tried not to panic, but I think we lost the match with our carelessness.

"They are very solid in the front and at the back, they're good players. But we didn't take our chances and they believed in it until the end."

France started brightly but Italy counter-attacked from deep in their own half, and Orquera burst through the French midfield with a surging run and offloaded to No 8 Parisse to go over in the left corner for the first try after just five minutes.

With France camping near the Italian line, Michalak switched the ball from right to left and fed Picamoles, who shrugged off Parisse and full-back Andrea Masi to go over in the left corner.

But Orquera knocked over a drop goal from 20 yards and a penalty from a bit further back to put Italy 13-5 up midway through the first half.

France thought they had scored another try shortly afterwards when their mobile pack swarmed around full-back Yoann Huget and bundled him over the line, but the try was not given after a long consultation over the video replay.

Instead, France got a scrum near the line and forced Italy into conceding a penalty, which Michalak slotted over to reduce the arrears to 13-8. France took the lead when Huget held off a tackle, fed centre Florian Fritz and he offloaded to Fall, who used his pace to run in from 30 yards for a converted try to put the French ahead for the first time at 15-13.

After a scrappy start to the second half, Michalak punished some Italian indiscipline with a fine penalty to open up a five-point gap. But in a virtual action replay of 2010, when Les Bleus led the Azzurri 18-6, the visitors were unable to protect their lead.

Orquera held off a tackle to feed Castrogiovanni, who bundled over for his 12th Italy try – making him one of the most prolific props in international rugby.

Orquera converted from near the posts to put Italy in front once more at 20-18. And things got worse for France when lock and captain Pascal Papé had to go off with a knee injury and was replaced by the inexperienced Romain Taofifenua, with flanker Thierry Dusautoir taking the armband.

Italian replacement Kristopher Burton slotted over a drop goal after 68 minuters to pile more pressure on France and leave them needing a converted try to win.

France won a lineout close to the Italian line with four minutes left but turned over the ball and Italy got a reprieve. France launched one last attack as Dusautoir led the charge; the visitors were awarded a penalty with 20 seconds to go some 15 yards from the line, but were forced out of play.

 



BUY RUGBY WORLD CUP TICKETS

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
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

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

Career Services

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests