France recovered from back-to-back RBS Six Nations defeats to condemn sorry Italy to a 29-0 defeat in Rome yesterday.
Scorers: France Tries: Maestri, Bastareaud. Cons: Plisson 2. Pens: Lopez 2, Spedding, Plisson 2.
France arrived at the Stadio Olimpico licking their wounds after a 20-13 home loss to Wales that had followed an 18-11 reverse at Ireland but made partial amends by beating the Azzurri in the Italian capital for the first time since 2009.
Italy trailed 12-0 early in the second half with the visitors converting four penalties from Scott Spedding, Camille Lopez (twice) and Jules Plisson. Toulouse lock Yoann Maestri scored the first try of the game in the 47th minute, before Plisson added the extras and a penalty to nudge the visitors further in front. Replacement centre Mathie Bastareaud scored a try in injury time to wrap up the convincing win and send the French into their final match against England at Twickenham in a much better mood.
The Azzurri, who won at Scotland last month for their first Six Nations triumph in almost two years, dominated the early stages on a wet day in Rome but failed to capitalise. They should have taken a ninth-minute lead but fly-half Tommaso Allan missed his first shot on goal and three minutes later the Perpignan stand-off suffered a groin injury and had to be replaced by Luciano Orquera.
Orquera proved equally as unlucky off the tee, with his penalty attempt striking the post in the 17th minute, which was an ominous sign of things to come.
Lopez made no such mistakes as he gave the French a 3-0 lead on 30 minutes. Les Bleus extended their lead at the end of the first half with Lopez and Spedding by converting penalties for a 9-0 lead.
The French grabbed a stranglehold after the interval. Plisson landed a penalty after Italy captain Sergio Parisse was penalised for holding on at the ruck. Things got worse for the home side when in the 47th minute, a great play by the French saw Spedding break from his own half before winger Yoann Huget set up Maestri for the first try of the match.
Plisson converted to make it 19-0 and added three more points before the hour after the Azzurri gave away another penalty.
France kept up the pressure and were rewarded at the death. Bastareaud crossed from two metres out after Les Bleus opted for a scrum following a late penalty given by Italy, who had 37 handling errors on the day.
Italy: McLean, Sarto, Morisi, Masi, Venditti, Allan, Gori, Aguero, Ghiraldini, Chistolini, Biagi, Furno, Minto, Vunisa, Parisse. Subs: Bacchin for Morisi (37), Orquera for Allan (13), Palazzani for Gori (72), De Marchi for Aguero (32), Manici for Ghiraldini (58), Cittadini for Chistolini (50), Geldenhuys for Biagi (50), Barbini for Parisse (74).
France: Spedding, Huget, Fickou, Mermoz, Nakaitaci, Lopez, Tillous-Borde, Ben Arous, Guirado, Mas, Flanquart, Maestri, Dusautoir, Le Roux, Goujon. Subs: Bastareaud for Fickou (69), Plisson for Lopez (41), Kockott for Tillous-Borde (63), Debaty for Ben Arous (57), Kayser for Guirado (53), Slimani for Mas (50), Taofifenua for Maestri (64), Chouly for Goujon (72).