France overpower Italy in dismal Rome clash
Visitors score second-half tries from Yoann Maestri and Mathieu Bastareaud
Yoann Maestri of France dives over to score a try during the Six Nations match against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome. Photograph: David Rogers/Getty Images
Italy 0 France 29
France overpowered a lacklustre Italy side in Rome in a scrappy Six Nations clash to recover from back-to-back defeats to Ireland and Wales.
The second half was a slight improvement as Yoann Maestri and Mathieu Bastareaud scored the game’s only tries while Jules Plisson kicked two penalties and two conversions after replacing Lopez, who suffered a knee injury.
Sergio Parisse made a record 112th appearance for Italy, surpassing Marco Bortolami’s record, but it was not an afternoon he will want to remember.
Italy’s problems began when Tomasso Allan, brought in at flyhalf after Kelly Haimona pulled out of the match through injury, tweaked his groin in the warm-up and began the game with strapping.
Allan was quickly in trouble, wincing after sending the first penalty of the match high and wide, and went off after 14 minutes, to be replaced by Luciano Orquera who almost immediately struck Italy’s second penalty against the post.
France made eight changes to the starting line-up from the team that lost to Wales two weeks ago, bringing in an all-new centre pairing in Gael Fickou and Maxime Mermoz and handing Noa Nakaitaci his first cap.
Spedding missed France’s first penalty kick from a difficult position but the first points went on the board in the 29th minute when Lopez kicked a penalty from halfway inside the Italian half.
Both teams wasted chances but, in between the mistakes, Lopez kicked France further ahead and Spedding added another with the last kick off the half.
Plisson extended the French lead at the start of the second half after Parisse was penalised for not releasing.
France then produced the first decent move of the match, sparked by Spedding’s run and ending with a try by Maestri which was converted by Plisson.
Plisson kicked France further ahead as they took control and Bastareaud’s try, again converted by Plisson, completed the French win.