8 - 50
(Half Time 3 - 25)
Sat 21st Mar 09, 13:15
Venue: Stadio Flaminio
Referee: Alain Rolland
21 March 2009, 3:22 pm
France put Italy to the sword
France bounced back from their Twickenham drubbing in emphatic style as a seven-try romp at the Stadio Flaminio condemned sorry Italy to a 50-8 defeat and the wooden spoon and a fourth RBS 6 Nations whitewash.
Les Bleus came to Rome licking their wounds after a nightmare showing in the 34-10 defeat to England last weekend but they made partial amends here, inflicting yet another heavy defeat on the Azzurri.
A three-try blitz in six first-half minutes gave the French a 25-3 lead at the break, Sebastien Chabal, Francois Trinh-Duc and Maxime Medard going over for scores.
They did not let up after the interval as Cedric Heymans, Lionel Nallet, Medard again and Julien Malzieu crossed to maintain France's unbeaten record against their trans-Alpine rivals in the Six Nations. Kicker Morgan Parra ended with 15 points.
Italy look to have gone backwards. Their defence went AWOL today with their points coming via Sergio Parisse's try and an Andrea Marcato penalty.
They have now conceded 228 points to the French in five Six Nations matches in Rome.
France had started disastrously at Twickenham - going into the break there 29-0 down - but they turned the tables emphatically in the first half here.
They were already six points clear by the 13th minute thanks to two early penalties by lively scrum-half Parra.
Marcato kicked one of two penalty attempts soon after but the floodgates then opened as the Azzurri went walkabout for the remainder of the half.
France's first try came in the 25th minute and it was typical Chabal.
The crowd could have been watching Jonah Lomu as the Sale tyro, collecting a pass from Thierry Dusautoir after Yannick Jauzion had fielded a steepling up-and-under, fended off tackles by Paul Griffen and Mirco Bergamasco before picking himself up off his feet and barging over from close range.
Three minutes later, Trinh-Duc - much more at ease on the front foot this weekend - sold the Azzurri defence a lovely dummy and he flew around the attempted tackles of Griffen and Giulio Rubini to ground at the end of a 40-yard charge.
Worse was to come for Italy. Griffen, who was having an uncomfortable day at scrum-half, fumbled a high ball and Trinh-Duc pounced, passing to Dusautoir who then laid on to Medard for the easiest of finishes.
Parra converted the first and third tries, and by then France had taken a vice-like grip on proceedings.
The Stadio Flaminio had scraps to get excited about, such as a break from deep by Mirco Bergamasco just before half-time, but that predictably came to nought and the French had a spring in their step as they jogged to the dressing room for the break.
They nailed their fourth try of the game within two minutes of the restart and again it was embarrassing stuff from the Italians.
Flanker Mauro Bergamasco attempted a grubber kick on his own 22 but the ball deflected off a France boot into the hands of Heymans, who gleefully romped over without a hand being placed on him.
Parra added the extras, quickly followed by his third penalty, and it was 35-3 to the visitors.
Chabal, who had a field day taking advantage of the huge gaps in Italy's defence, was brought down close to the Italy line at the end of a 50-metre dash while Florian Fritz was bundled into touch by Parisse as he tried to ground on the left wing.
The two captains then traded tries within a matter of minutes as the crowd were treated to a points fest.
Nallet was adjudged to have grounded in the 55th minute under a mass of bodies, the mercurial Frederic Michalak - on as a substitute for his first cap in 16 months - missing the conversion.
Parisse, inevitably, got Italy's sole try when he ran onto Mauro Bergamasco's pass to charge over from 20 yards.
Medard, a bright spark in an otherwise miserable Six Nations for France, grabbed his second try of the day in the 70th minute and Malzieu completed the rout by bringing up the half-century at the death.