France ease to 29-0 Six Nations victory over Italy in Rome
Last Updated: 15/03/15 7:31pm
France avoided a third successive Six Nations defeat with a 29-0 win over Italy in a dour contest at the Stadio Olimpico.
Yoann Maestri and replacement Mathieu Bastareaud ran in second-half tries for Les Bleus to ease some of the pressure on under-fire head coach Philippe Saint-Andre.
Despite the one-sided scoreline, the performances of both sides was far from world class, and huge improvement is required ahead of their World Cup Pool D meeting at Twickenham in September.
Italy were forced into a late change at fly-half after Kelly Haimona was ruled out through injury, but his replacement – Tommaso Allan – strained his groin in the warm-up and lasted just 14 minutes before being withdrawn for Luciano Orquera.
France led 9-0 at the end of a forgettable first half thanks to penalties from fly-half Camille Lopez (two) and full-back Scott Spedding, with Allan and Orquera missing kicks at goal for the hosts.
Lopez failed to appear for the second period after picking up a knock late in the first half, and Stade Francais fly-half Jules Plisson marked his introduction with a successful penalty two minutes after the restart.
The game’s first moment of real quality arrived on 46 minutes and resulted in the opening try. Spedding made an arcing run through the Italian defence and although he was stopped before the line, France shifted the ball wide and Yoann Huget set up Maestri for a simple score.
Plisson added the conversion for a 19-point lead and the replacement made it three from three attempts with another penalty just before the hour.
The game was effectively over but France were intent on wrapping a silver lining around their performance.
Having won successive scrum penalties in the final minute, France went for the tap and Bastareaud barged his way over, with Plisson adding the extras.