Flamboyant France too strong for Italy

Missed tackles dearly cost the hosts

 ROME— Despite an initially bright start, Italy were comfortably defeated 18-40 by France on a glorious Saturday afternoon at the Stadio Olimpico. The visitors ran over 4 tries as the Italians slumped to a record tenth consecutive home Six Nations defeat.

 Yet again the home side looked sharp from the first whistle. Their early efforts were rewarded when legendary captain Sergio Parisse broke through the French defence to give his team the lead. The forward’s try is the fastest of the tournament as it stands and gave the the Azzurri a dream start.

 France responded in fine fashion as Gael Fickou’s try and the boot of Camille Lopez helped give Guy Novés’ team an 11-16 lead heading into the break.

 It was another promising first half performance from the Italians. The home side looked dangerous with the ball in hand and two Carlo Canna penalties meant that they entered the break with genuine hope.

 However, the Azzurri faded as they put in an all too familiar sloppy second half display.

 The visitors benefited from a host of mixed tackles as they scored 3 more tries to consign Italy to their third wooden spoon in 4 years. Virimi Vakatawa and Louis Picamoles both went over before Fullback Brice Dulin secured France a bonus point and extinguished all Italian hopes of resurgence.

 At times the visitors played the sort of fast-moving, flamboyant rugby that they are famed for producing. However, a 66 percent successful tackle rate will not please Italian defense coach Brendan Venter as France easily cut through their hosts. Venter, whose revolutionary defensive tactics against England in their last outing caused quite a stir, will be looking for a large improvement in their final game of the tournament. 

 Angelo Esposito gave the home fans something to celebrate when he ran in a try in the game’s last play. However, it was nothing more than a consolation for Italy as they slumped to an 18-40 defeat.

 Despite the result headcoach Connor O’Shea remained positive when speaking to Italian media.

 “I believe in this group”, said the Irishman, “today is very different to after the defeat against Ireland”.

 “I am proud of my players, they are always playing against the odds”.

 Italian rugby fans will be hoping that their team can remain competitive for the full duration of their next game when they end their tournament against Scotland at Murrayfield in the early kick-off next Sunday