France coach Bernard Laporte admits the 37-12 victory over Italy in the RBS 6 Nations Championship on Saturday was far from the perfect reply to their critics.
Laporte made a point of thanking the crowd for their support in a game where for an hour Italy were in with a real chance of pulling off a first ever away win in the competition.
However, a late glut of tries ensured a comprehensive margin of victory and a warm send-off from the fans that had jeered them off after the 43-31 win over Ireland a fortnight ago.
Laporte had defended his team after the Ireland match with an outburst against the crowd for which he later apologised but on Saturday he was in a more introspective mood as he admitted the weaknesses of his own team.
"We made some dreadful errors in the first half," said Laporte. "Although we played at a good physical intensity there was no real teamwork.
"There were some unbelievable things - just booting the ball forward to nowhere and our inability to string anything together."
At the interval Italy led 12-8 and although France had, through number eight Thomas Lievremont, scored the only try of the first period, they were facing the prospect of becoming the first team to capitulate to Italy on home soil since the Azzurri joined the erstwhile Five Nations in 2000.
"Luckily the players realised at half-time that things had to change if we were going to score but it was not easy for us," said Laporte.
It was only when Yannick Nyanga scored the second try that France took control of the game and then prop Pieter de Villiers scored the game-clincher.
Aurelien Rougerie and Frederic Michalak then added late scores to give a scoreline that maybe flattered France, although the fact that they scored all five tries in the match proved the win was not undeserved.
"We became more focused in our game and that enables us to put some points on the board," said Laporte.
Michalak's late try helped the stand-off repair his own relationship with the crowd who had not been impressed with his display against the Irish, when Les Bleus almost blew a 41-3 lead before eventually winning 43-31.
"I have had to discuss things with Frederic but in fact the crowd really helped us," said Laporte. "I want to say well done to the public for singing the Marseillaise so well and also for getting behind the team."
Looking forward to the match with England, whose Grand Slam hopes ended with an 18-12 defeat in Scotland on Saturday, Laporte said: "We have to show the right face because against a team like that you can not afford to make mistakes like we have so far."
The 2017 RBS 6 Nations was watched by record numbers of fans
29 March 2017, 12:25pm
After an enthralling RBS 6 Nations Championship of twists, turns, and no small amount of drama on the last day, figures show the RBS 6 Nations is going from strength to strength, year on year, with no sign of slowing down.