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France 37-10 Italy: Scrappy Les Bleus eventually secure bonus-point Six Nations victory

Les Bleus eventually score five tries against a battling Italy at the Stade de France, with blindside flanker Anthony Jelonch, wing Gabin Villiere (hat-trick) and wing Damian Penaud each crossing; Italy wing Tommaso Menoncello becomes youngest championship try scorer since 1967

Image: France wing Gabin Villiere scored a first Six Nations hat-trick by a Les Bleus player since 2008

A scrappy France eventually secured an opening 37-10 Six Nations bonus-point victory over Italy in Paris, as wing Gabin Villiere notched a hat-trick. 

The Azzurri, looking for a first Championship win since 2015 and their first ever victory in Paris, took a surprise lead when teenage debutant Tommaso Menoncello gathered a kick to finish in the corner - becoming the youngest Six Nations try scorer in 55 years.

France struck back with Anthony Jelonch and Villiere tries to take an eight-point lead into half-time.

Villiere weaved a path through the Italian defence to cross again after the break before Damian Penaud added the bonus-point score, and Villiere dived over for his third with the clock in the red.

France 37-10 Italy - Score summary

France - Tries: Jelonch, Villiere (three), Penaud. Cons: Jaminet (two), Ntamack. Pens: Jaminet (two).

Italy - Tries: Menoncello. Cons: Garbisi. Pens: Garbisi.

France were without coach Fabien Galthie, after he tested positive for Covid on Friday, so assistant coach Raphael Ibanez took charge.

Full-back Melvyn Jaminet, a revelation on the summer tour of Australia when he was still playing second-tier club rugby, kicked the first points of his Six Nations career with an early penalty from 35 meters.

But Italy, who have not won in the competition since 2015 and are on a run of 32 Six Nations losses in a row, caught France napping in the 18th minute.

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Image: Italy wing Tommaso Menoncello scored on his Test debut, and became the youngest championship try scorer since 1967

After scrum-half Stephen Varney led a quick break, fly-half Paolo Garbisi crosskicked into the right corner and 19-year-old Menoncello jumped up well, just staying in play and twisting down for a fine effort given following a TMO review.

The lead lasted 10 minutes as Italy botched a lineout in heavy rain, and Varney blindly patted the ball back into the hands of Jelonch to sprint clear for an unconverted intercept try.

France's Anthony Jelonch crosses the try line
Image: France's Anthony Jelonch crossed the tryline after picking off an intercept

Garbisi and Jaminet traded penalties, and Jaminet then appeared to overrule France's coaching staff when not kicking an easy three points in the final play of the first half.

France won the lineout instead, the ball was swiftly switched left in a flurry of fast offloads and Jaminet justified his own call by sending Villiere free down the left before converting from wide out.

France's Gabin Villiere scores a try (AP)
Image: Villiere scored tries in dead time of both the first half and second half

Les Bleus went in 18-10 up at the break without having shown the flair they did when beating New Zealand 40-25 last November.

But Antoine Dupont, the world player of the year, and half-back partner Romain Ntamack hardly played any club rugby recently after contracting Covid-19.

Still, Kieran Crowleys new-look Italy competed better than most observers expected and France were frustrated until the 50th minute, when Villiere got a fine feed from No 8 Gregory Alldritt and side-stepped his way over the line at Stade de France.

The bonus-point fourth did not come until the 68th, when Dupont burst into life and set up Penaud's 14th international try as they swapped passes down the right touchline.

Image: Damian Penaud secured the bonus-point with a try with 12 minutes left

With the clock in the red, Villiere then dived in at the corner to become the first Frenchman to score a Six Nations hat-trick since Vincent Clerc against Ireland in 2008

2022 Six Nations standings

Team W D L SD BP P
France 1 0 0 27 1 5
Ireland 1 0 0 22 1 5
Scotland 1 0 0 3 0 4
England 0 0 1 -3 1 1
Wales 0 0 1 -22 0 0
Italy 0 0 1 -27 0 0

Stats of the match

What's next?

France are level with Ireland on five points at the top of the table after the opening round, ahead of their meeting in Paris next Saturday (4.45pm kick off GMT).

France's 2022 Six Nations

Sunday, February 6 37-10 win vs Italy (H) 3pm
Saturday, February 12 Ireland (H) 4.45pm
Saturday, February 26 Scotland (A) 2.15pm
Friday, March 11 Wales (A) 8pm
Saturday, March 19 England (H) 8pm

Italy face England in Rome on Sunday (2.15pm kick off GMT), where both sides will be looking to respond to opening-day defeats after Eddie Jones' side lost their opener in Scotland.

Italy's 2022 Six Nations

Sunday, February 6 37-10 loss vs France (A) 3pm
Sunday, February 13 England (H) 3pm
Sunday, February 27 Ireland (A) 3pm
Saturday, March 12 Scotland (H) 2.15pm
Saturday, March 19 Wales (A) 2.15pm

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