France thrash Italy 29-0 in Six Nations

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France and Italy will meet again in Pool D of the World Cup in England this autumn. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP
08:01 CET+01:00
Yoann Maestri and Mathieu Bastareaud ran in the only tries of the game as France whitewashed Italy 29-0 at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday in what could go down as one of the worst Six Nations matches of all time.

France travelled to the Italian capital looking to reclaim the Giuseppe Garibaldi Trophy having lost to the Azzurri on their two previous visits to Rome.

Under-fire France coach Philippe Saint-Andre ultimately achieved his objective of seeing his side get back to winning ways following successive defeats in this campaign to Ireland and Wales.

But despite the one-sided scoreline, the display from both sides - who will meet in Pool D of the World Cup in England this autumn - was far from world class.

For once in this tournament, the Stadio Olimpico was deadly silent for long spells as Italy, seemingly filled with confidence after a 22-19 win over Scotland two weeks ago, failed to deliver on the promise shown at Murrayfield.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel tried to play down his side's sorry performance, saying: "We missed early chances to put points on the board and over the game we lacked efficiency in the lineouts and the mauls.

"The rain wasn't a problem. The French defence was, although we knew that already. They had only conceded two tries during the tournament...and they built their victory on those foundations.

"That put us in difficulty, especially in the second half."   

France, who will face England in their final match of the tournament next week, hardly fared better. But under-fire Saint-Andre was keen to see things in a positive light.    

"We have to congratulate the players' efforts throughout the week, they took the match by the scruff of the neck in what were somewhat trying circumstances," said Saint-Andre.

"We have to salute all the players, who were at 200 percent in their preparation for this game."

France went into the half-time interval with a nine-point lead thanks to penalties from fly-half Camille Lopez (two) and full-back Scott Spedding.

But both Lopez and opposite number Tommaso Allan, and also Luciano Orquera, missed what looked like textbook penalty attempts in the opening half before Allan was replaced by Orquera in the 14th minute after suffering a suspected groin injury.

Italy coach Jacques Brunel had sprung a surprise before kick-off by naming Allan in his starting XV after dropping New Zealand born Kelly Haimona from his matchday 23 altogether.

Orquera's first job was to hit a penalty from just over the halfway line after an infringement on Parisse as he jumped for the ball, but although his effort went the distance it came off the crossbar.

There were little in the way of running, flowing rugby in the opening half.   

Noa Nakaitaci ran 40 metres with ball in hand before being hauled down by Italy captain Sergio Parisse, who will likely want to consign the game in which he took his caps tally to a record 112 to the dustbin.

At the end of the half, Lopez, then Spedding burst through with mazy runs past the Italian 22-metre line before being stopped in their tracks. To their credit, France tried to make amends after the interval. 

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A Parisse foul handed Les Bleus another penalty on 41 minutes, with Plisson's effort worming its way through the posts to give France a 12-point lead.

Spedding's arcing run through the Italian defence was a shining nugget in the mire. Although he was stopped before the line, from the breakdown wing Yoann Huget set up Maestri for a simple run in from ten metres on 45 minutes.

Plisson added the conversion for a 19-point lead and the replacement fly-half made it three from three attempts with another penalty just before the hour.

The game was effectively over but France were intent on wrapping a silver lining around their performance.

The visitors won a penalty in the final minute after Italy nicked the ball illegally. France went for the tap and Bastareaud took possession close to the line to barge his way over for his third try in 34 matches. Plisson added the conversion to finish with ten points from the boot.

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