France secured a bonus-point win as Italy faded in the second half once again, confirming another wooden spoon for the Azzurri
Well that wasn’t a bad way to spend an afternoon was it? France weren’t at their best but there were some gorgeous tries and lovely hands in there. They move above Wales and Scotland to third, while Italy remain pointless at the bottom after another rubbish second half. That’s all from me here, join me for England v Scotland over there:
Canna nails a tough kick from the right-hand touchline to end the match on a relatively happy note for the Italians.
Sperandio makes a nice break and canters into French territory. Might Italy actually get some second-half points here? McLean is up in support and soon the rest of the team join them in time to plug away. Biagi drives and sucks defenders into the middle, allowing them to go right through the hands and Esposito dives into the corner.
79 min On telly, Ben Kay points out that Italy’s tackle rate is 51% today. That is atrocious. France have carried it up to the 22 and are sniffing a fifth … oh no Esposito has nabbed a loose pass.
Lopez knocks it through and brings up the 40. France have the bonus point now too.
Lovely offload out the back of the hand from Nakaitaci puts Gourdon away down the right. Esposito slips off the tackle and Dulin is in support to collect the pass and jog under the posts.
76 min Huget looks to step and snipe down the left but Italy knock it on in the tackle. Baptiste Serin is named man of the match.
75 min Italy plough up towards the 10 metre line. It’s turned over.
74 min Italy get a lineout on halfway and lose that, but get the scrum when France’s maul is held up. Another debutant, Dupont, comes on for Serin.
73 min Well that’s a nonsense, the TMO has awarded a lineout to Italy and from that they win a penalty for an offside against Gourdon. Le Roux is on for the magnificent Picamoles, Sperandio is on for his debut in place of Padovani.
Hold on, the TMO is having a look to check Picamoles’ offload. Esposito is hanging on to his boot and desperately trying to drag it into touch, but I reckon he’s got his arm under the boot and it’s OK.
The ball goes loose when Italy run it and McLean spills it in the tackle. You sense that France just need to avoid doing anything fancy to score. They go right then left but the final pass goes behind Huget. Picamoles tip-toes –ha! – down the touchline and throws the most extraordinary offload back inside. It’s recycled and Ben Arous steps past Chistolini to go under the sticks for the fourth try.
71 min Gourdon now takes it further, through midfield and almost to the 22. That’s a nice angle and good use of the legs. What follows is not so good as France try to pass it along the line too quickly and Dulin sends it to ground.
70 min France change: Lamerat off, Trinh-Duc on. Picamoles comes off the back of the scrum and makes 10 metres or so out of his 22. Fickou then makes more ground up the right.
England news: Owen Farrell is fit to start.
69 min Now France can play under a little bit less pressure and look for the bonus point. They get a scrum at the restart when Benvenuti, I think, knocks on making a tackle.
Through goes the conversion from wide on the left. Game over man, game over. Aw I miss Bill Paxton.
The No8 picks it up, runs at Canna and it’s no contest.
66 min Serin chips very nicely over the top and Esposito has to turn and gather the bouncing ball. He takes it back into his in-goal area and tries to clear but Huget charges it down. The ball bobbles out so it’s a five-metre scrum to France. Panico on for Lovotti.
65 min It looks like Campagnaro hurt his shoulder making that tackle, so Italy lose one of their best players. Benvenutti replaces him. From the scrum, Bronzini boots it clear and Dulin runs it back, getting to the 22 under barely any pressure. Once he’s tackled, the ball is hacked into touch by an Italian boot.
@DanLucas86 I said 26-10, 26-11 is close!
P.S. can the commentator stop saying “Dare not lose”?
Yeah they’re not going to lose. Good work, too.
64 min Vakatawa off, Huget on. From the scrum Lamerat slices through the Italian defence, taking a neat angle and shrugging off Campagnaro to make 50 metres. The Exeter No13 gets back well though and makes the last-ditch tackle, forcing the knock-on in the process.
63 min D’Apice replaces Ghiraldini for Italy. France go right from the lineout but Venditti wins a turnover from Dulin, who has blown hot and cold today. Left they go but – sigh – Parisse knocks on a pass that was perhaps six inches too far in front of him.
62 min Into touch a metre inside France’s half and from the lineout Bronzini knocks it on. Italy have been so poor in the second half once again.
61 min Padovani collects when Dulin underhits his grubber ahead. Italy are back in possession but 50 metres back down the field, so Canna goes high. It’s caught and marked comfortably by Dulin.
60 min Italy get a free-kick from the five-metre scrum and Parisse then Campagnaro have a dart, but the latter knocks on and France look to run it.
59 min An unfortunate Fickou-related typo has been pointed out to me and corrected. Refresh the page and don’t tell my bosses. Jedrasiak is on for France.
58 min Left they go and Bronzini dummies after picking up, darts for the line. Picamoles and Dulin are hanging off him but the scrum-half thinks he’s got his first international try. After consultation with Nigel Owens, O’Keefe goes to the TMO and it turns out Dulin had done very well to get his arm under the ball.
“If Scotland win today, P T Anderson will be directing a film about this years Six Nations, called ‘There Will Be Cocktails’” writes Simon McMahon.
57 min This is a mess from Italy. They win a penalty when Atonio knocks it on in the tackle and Fickou plays it from an offside position. McLean puts it in the corner as Biagi replaces Fuser in the Italian second row. He wins his first lineout, which is a good start.
56 min From the lineout McLean has a look through midfield but is scragged. Recycled and Campagnaro runs at Fickou’s shoulder, making a half break but there’s not a lot of support.
55 min In fact they look to run it. There is no way out of the 22 though, so Serin eventually takes matters into his own hands and puts boot to ball, finding touch on the right midway inside the France half. Tolofua comes on for cap’n Guirado.
54 min Back into the corner from McLean but before we have the lineout Baille and Slimani are replaced by Ben Arous and
Atonio. Parisse takes a messy lineout but it’s knocked on at the breakdown and France, with their fresh props, should make their exit from this scrum.
The Mountain From Game Of Thrones
53 min Penalty Italy, for collapsing a later maul.
52 min Taken at the front but the maul is stopped and brought down, legally says Ben O’Keefe. Italy are going to try and bash their way over the line, which doesn’t feel like the wisest idea against this French back row, which is so adept at defending the fringes.
51 min Italy go for the corner as Bronzini and Mbanda replace Gori and Favaro. They get another penalty, against Maestri I think, for playing the jumper in the air so back to the corner they go.
50 min Italy win the ball back at the restart and get a penalty for stray hands in the ruck. There’s a bit of afters between Ghiraldini and Guirado too but nothing much in it.
Easy as you like, but this could get nasty from Italy here. They are now 102-5 down in second halves in this Six Nations.
You feel France could put the game to bed here. Maestri secures the ball in the middle of the lineout and they form the maul. From it they go inside and Lopez dummies, looking to go himself. He’s stopped but through comes the dummy runner, the hole opens up and Vakatawa walks under the sticks.
Indeed they do go for the corner.
47 min France bulldoze their way to within five metres but Parisse intercepts a loose pass and Canna can clear. Back come France though through Nakaitaci and Picamoles, into the 22 and Italy are pinged for offside on the 22. Time to stick one in the corner?
46 min France secure the lineout and form the maul on the left, a few metres outside the 22.
Scotland’s Simon McMahon writes: “Afternoon Dan. I’m kinda hoping Italy can do something second half, as seeing a team in blue squeeze a narrow away win against a team in white twice in one day is asking a bit much don’t you think?” No cocktails if that happens Simon?
45 min Vakatawa looks to have a run from the restart but is tackled just outside his 22. Fickou makes a break and soars into space before sending it left for Vakatawa to stream down the line. He looks certain to score but Padovani gets back and makes a brilliant tackle five metres out! He takes him into touch and Gori clears from the lineout. What a tackle from Padovani!
From 30 metres, Lopez slots an easy kick and takes his side more than a score ahead.
43 min There was a high tackle on Serin earlier in the move and we go back for a penalty to France. This should be three points.
42 min Picking and going, France are into Italy’s half. Fickou slips a kick through into the 22 but Parisse sweeps up, they go right and Esposito kicks it away. That’s not great from the Italian wing and now Slimani comes through a gap and Maestri carries into the 22 once again.
41 min Cittadini is off for Italy, Chistolini on in his stead. Padovani restarts and Lopez launches a huge return to touch, a couple of metres inside Italy’s half on the left. The lineout goes all wrong for Italy and Guirado gobbles it up at the back.
“Slightly disappointed about the scheduling today,” writes Robin Hazlehurst. “I’m going to the pub for the second half of this as a Calcutta Cup warm up, but Italy’s habit of fading means that is likely to be the less interesting half. Couldn’t they have played the halves the other way round? Or the two matches. Biggest disappointment about this game is you can’t play Fantasy Lions selection during it. Parisse or Picamoles at 8 for the Lions…? Or still Billy V?”
Still Billy V. The other two make the squad though. And hey, the players are back out!
A quick note: If France lose this they will drop below Argentina and out of the top eight of the world rankings. They would therefore need to beat Wales next week to avoid a nasty World Cup draw.
From the penalty France have a lineout on their own 10 metre line. They shuffle it left along the line then Serin slips round the fringe of the ruck and bursts into space, earning his side 30 metres. It’s knocked on a few phases later though and that’s the end of an entertaining half.
39 min Lovotti drives in on an angle and drags the scrum down. Either of those could be penalised and, indeed, is. Slimani is taking Italy to pieces at the scrum.
38 min Another up-and-under from McLean this time and Dulin can’t claim it. It’s a scrum France though as Campagnaro knocks it forward.
37 min Lineout 15 metres inside the French half and it’s taken by Fuser. This game, after a bright, breezy and enjoyable first half hour, has just stalled a bit.
36 min An exchange of kicks from the restart and Italy come running back. Gori is getting busy – grow up – around the breakdown but there’s not a lot of imagination and their attack is very stilted. Canna puts the ball up high and Vakatawa takes under no pressure in his 22. He forgets to call the mark, but Lopez eventually boots it clear.
Through it goes from wide on the right, a lovely strike from the Clermont man.
34 min The scrum wheels, the ball gets stuck and France are awarded a penalty. Slimani has some ice spray stuff on his ankle which – unlike mine – probably isn’t broken.
33 min Same scrum. Tweets!
@DanLucas86 I’d like Italy to beat France. However I think England will do it with a very tight margin
31 min Maul formed but France do nowt with it, it goes down and Italy are awarded the scrum as the ball becomes unplayable.
30 min That was funny – Italy said the ruck hadn’t formed, O’Keefe said it had. Lopez puts a middling penalty into touch down the right, just inside the 22.
29 min Lopez chips it short and someone in the dark shadowy bit of the pitch catches it. I believe it’s Nakaitaci but don’t take my word on that. Whoever it was, they’ve got a penalty as the whistle goes for offside against – again, it was in the dark bit I can’t see very well – Gori, I think.
28 min Another penalty for not releasing the man on the ground – Gourdon, I think, the guilty party this time. This should go through, just to the left and 20 metres out.
27 min Fuser takes the lineout in the middle and Italy form the driving maul from 30 metres. Gori snipes and gets into the 22, where he’s tackled and they reset.
26 min Taken at the front and Gori goes high with the kick. Dulin takes but we’re going back for an Italian penalty on haflway, as Guirado was lifting Parisse’s leg in the maul. McLean kicks the penalty to touch down the Italy right.
25 min According to Miles Harrison, Picamoles moved to Northampton because he doesn’t like the sun. He’s also on about £400,000 a year there, Harrison doesn’t add as Lopez clears to touch on halfway.
24 min But Lopez’s kick is straight into the chest of McLean and he kicks ahead into space. Picamoles has to get back into his 22 and clear up the mess with Van Schalkwyk in pursuit. The Italian wins possession but Campagnaro, coming up in support, knocks it forwards.
23 min Parisse pops it inside for Steyn but he’s stopped well. Italy send it left but knock on at the breakdown and Sanconnie makes some ground after taking a neat basketball style offload from Nakaitaci.
22 min This time from the restart Serin clears to touch, finding it on his own 10 metre line on the right.
Lopez chips over the conversion after a classic French try.
Oh my word. From the restart with have a bit of kick tennis, before Dulin runs from right to left. Passes to Lamerat and he sends Vakatawa plundering through on a diagonal line. Picamoles makes more ground and Italy’s defence is scattered. They send it right to Fickou, who sells a dummy and runs through a gap from 30 metres.
From wide on the left, Lopez bisects the posts.
18 min Fickou catches the restart and sends Vakatawa thundering down the left, almost to the line! It’s recycled and Picamoles has a look from a couple of metres. Vakatawa thinks he’s scored but there was a knock-on as the ball was shuffled out to him, so we go back for a penalty for offside.
Canna restores Italy’s five-point lead.
16 min Penalty Italy as Maestri led with his shoulder in a tackle. This should be three points for Canna – it’s right in front of the posts.
15 min Taken and Italy go off the back of the maul, into contact 10 metres out.
14 min Italy secure the ball at the lineout on the right and Parisse comes off the back of the maul. Favoro makes a burst and takes them into the 22 but it’s turned over and France think about running it, but Maestri is caught near his own line. Eventually it’s back to Dulin, who clears to touch on the left.
13 min Favaro gets up on Serin quickly but France do retain possession. Now Italy go with the ol’ tackle only, blocking Serin but the No9 eventually gets it back to Lopez, who clears to touch just outside the 22.
12 min It’s a France scrum five metres from their own line. At some point they’ll complete that.
10 min Padovani takes the restart and Serin thumps the ball back whence it came. Or almost – it’s out on the right, on the 10 metre line. Parisse takes the long throw and Italy try to form the maul. That’s a mess but Parisse drives up over the gainline. They have advantage again and Parisse offloads nicely to Van Schalkwyk and the lock busts into the 22! Right it goes and there’s an overlap, but Vakatawa forces Esposito to knock on.
From 45 metres, Camille Lopez moves into pole position in this year’s leading points scorers list.
8 min Penalty to France at the scrum as they make a right mess of the Italian pack. Ooh a few more tweets have come in.
@DanLucas86 I’m rooting for Italy. Not because they’re in with a modicum of chance – I’m a Scotsman vying for the underdogs!
This should be a great, open game @DanLucas86 with both teams under pressure. Parisse’s try is just needed too. Italy 18-23 France. Tight.
McLean misses touch with his penalty, which isn’t good. France have it on halfway and Nakaitaci makes a few metres with a powerful drive. Knock on at the breakdown by Slimani though.
5 min Cleared by Canna from the restart and Vakatawa is the man to carry it back, down the left midway inside the Italian half. Italy are competing at the breakdown it seems and they earn a penalty when Baille goes off his feet inside the 22.
4 min 14 metres in from the left, Canna misses a shot he should really have nailed.
Italy have possession 10 metres out and form a maul, which is dragged down illegally. They have the advantage and after three phases Canna steps to drag the defence across. He offloads nicely out the tackle and only one man was going to be on the end of that!
2 min It’s scrappy and comes back on the French side. Vakatawa comes into midfield and knocks on in the tackle though and Italy go wide left, then right and Steyn’s offload allows Esposito to make ground down the touchline. Into the 22 already and the crowd are liking this start.
1 min New Zealand’s Ben O’Keefe, on his Six Nations debut, gives the signal and Lopez gets us under way in gorgeous Rome sunshine. It’s shallow-ish and taken outside the 22; Gori clears and Vakatawa is tackled into touch a metre inside his own half.
@DanLucas86 It will be something along the lines of France 23-10 Italy as France struggle to an Italy who fade after Half Time
Sounds about right.
Anthems time. Two of the finest around, I’m sure you’ll all agree. After this we have the rugby.
First up, the great Rob Smyth is going dry for the year to raise money for Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia and Lymphoma Research). You can support his efforts here.
Bloody hell someone’s following this match
@DanLucas86 if have any chance of getting a win in this 6Ns it’s today. Any number of Les Bleus cud show up. A few tries for sure.
A quick tribute to Padovani’s tattoo – the best in the Six Nations by a distance.
One point of interest is Francois Trinh-Duc’s return to the France bench. I’ve liked Lopez so far but the Toulon man is Guy Noves’ stated favourite, so I imagine he’ll be on around the hour mark at the latest.
Afternoon, folks. Let’s look at the permutations. If France win here, and Scotland beat England later, and Italy beat Scotland next weekend, and England lose to Ireland in the finale, then they have a chance of winning the title. Italy need to get a draw to have any chance of not finishing bottom.
OK I won’t ask you to get excited. This is very much the appetiser before the Calcutta Cup-flavoured main course today. So I’ll keep this brief.
Permanent link to this article: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/live/2017/mar/11/italy-v-france-six-nations-live