RugbyMatch Report

France survive big scare to edge out Italy in Six Nations

Les Bleus fend off threat and extend winning streak to 14 when they travel to Ireland

Italy 24 France 29

A game in which the Italians were pressing hard at the end sensing a victory over last year’s Grand Slam champions tells us something about the troubled French visit to Rome and it tells Ireland that it will not be the same this week when the sides meet in Dublin.

France played in second gear, sometimes got into third gear but never topped out in a match that gifted them early tries and in a frantic end could easily have slipped away from them had Italy an attacking lineout maul in their armoury.

French discipline was poor, especially in the first half where they gave away their ninth penalty for Tommaso Allan to kick Italy to 14-19 at halftime, the home side having handed France two early tries from botched exits from their 22 to get the scoreboard rolling.


By then English referee Matthew Carley was talking to French captain and man of the match, Antoine Dupont, about his team’s discipline and promising a card next time they defaulted.

Minutes later outhalf Ntamack was replaced by Mathieu Jalibert. Power from a French lineout maul recycled to replacement Romain Taofifenua and it was Jalibert knifing in from the pass and Ramos converting for 24-29.

Allan tried from long range but pulled his kick wide on 73 minutes as the momentum shifted Italy’s way. France sensed the energy change with the home side galvanising for a slightly chaotic finish.

Relieved, frustrated, delighted at the final whistle, France earned their 14th win in succession with a Dublin welcome now awaiting.

Scoring sequence – 4 mins T Flament try, Ramos con 0-7; 13 mins T Allan pen 3-7; 18 mins T Ramos try 3-12; 22 mins T Allan pen 6-12; 26 mins E Dumartier try, Ramos con 6-19; 31 mins A Capuozzo try 11-19; 41 mins T Allan pen 14-19. Halftime. 46 mins T Ramos pen 14-22; 50 mins pen try 21-22; 61 mins T Allan pen 24-22; 67 mins M Jalibert try, Ramos con 24-29.

Italy: A Capuozzo; P Bruno, J Ignacio Brex, L Morisi, T Menoncello; T Allan, S Varney; D Fischetti, G Nicotera, S Ferrari, N Cannone, F Ruzza, S Negri, M Lamaro (c), L Cannone

Replacements: P Ceccarelli for Ferrari 57 mins; M Zuliani for Negri 65 mins; E Padovani for Bruno 66 mins; E Iachizzi for Nicoters, G Pettinelli for L Cannone, F Zani for Fischetti 68 mins; A Fusco for Varney 75 mins

France: T Ramos; D Penaud, G Fickou, Y Moefana, E Dumortier; R Ntamack, A Dupont (c); C Baille, J Marchand, U Atonio, T Flament, P Willemse, A Jelonch, C Ollivon, G Alldritt

Replacements: R Wardi for Baille 52 mins, Si Falatea for Atonio 52 mins; R Taofifenua for Willemse 53 mins; S Macalou for Aldritt, G Barlot for Marchand 61 mins; M Jalibert for Ntamack 65 mins

Yellow card: Ollivon 51 mins

Referee: M Carley (RFU)

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson

Johnny Watterson is a sports writer with The Irish Times