France face England after a solid performance in the Autumn Nations Cup final. They did what they had to do. They always felt they had different equipment when they needed it. Many of the second strings impressed – especially Malacou and Dulin.
France has the ball in Italy’s 22nd and plays towards the try line. They are working on it, and thanks to two fantastic shipments from Woki and Barraque, the impressive and highly rated Malacou is driving across the line for a well-deserved try. You do the conversion and it’s all over.
France was very professional and did what it needed tonight. They made the most of the man advantage and while the French XV was inexperienced, this match demonstrated the strength of the Les Bleus squad.
Dulin had a wonderful game and he illustrates his class once again by doing and doing 10 yards stupid. It’s energy-saving stuff for a tired Italian defense, but they hold on (after 14 phases) and can turn the ball and kick for a long time.
Minozzi drops the ball into the middle of the field without pressure. It is clear that both sides are now tired and making mistakes.
Stephen Varney is with Scrum-Half for Italy. The 19-year-old Gloucester qualifies through his Italian mother Valeria and made his debut against Scotland earlier this month.
France won this game and it could be a long 12 minutes for the Italians.
Finally, Thomas gets the ball into space – Dulin walks to the winger 30 meters in front of the winger and the Racing winger flaps his ears and accelerates the right wing before jumping into the corner. There was no way Italy could stop the pacy winger.
Bang on the hour mark Serine dives over from a short distance. The powerful pack executes a driving mouth perfectly and the scrum half brings the ball down.
You scored two tries against the 14 men and when Jalibert converts, France is on the up.
Villiere had only made ten feet prior to this attempt, but it was a wonderful opportunity to open his international account. The hosts can finally look forward to the highlights.
Meanwhile, Thomas attacks the right wing, he steps forward, but is cynically taken out late, it could have been another yellow, but Owens and the TMO decide to play it safe.
Italy only has 14 men left after Trulla sees yellow and the French let the visitors pay when Villiere hits the line at speed after a French theft at a lineout. The young winger put on the afterburners that came from his wing to break the Italian backline and score from 30 meters away. Great try from the Toulon winger.
France continues to hesitate and has put together very few game phases. Les Blues change their entire front row. Italy brings Leonardo Ghiraldini into play – in a match full of newbies, the Italian whore is the most experienced man out there with over 100 internationals.
At the moment everything is a little bit scratchy and the game is again screaming for a moment of magic for someone to take the risk and try to create something.
Mbanda is on the ground after a driving error and there is a break in play. Once the Italian striker is up, his side has a scrum in their own 22. Italy retain possession and Garbisi kicks for a long time, but Dulin is in the right place (not for the first time) and is stepping back. Garbisi kicks again, this time finding Thomas and the pacy winger instead of running against the Italians – not sure why one of the fastest runners in rugby in the world would choose it, but there we go.
Italy sees a bit of the ball and like the French they hold the ball in their hands. They are working towards the French 22 but Malacou is brilliant at the breakdown and wins a penalty.
France forces turnover on the center line and decides to hold the ball instead of kicking (promising signs) but the ball comes to prop neti, no quick back, and Italy turnover.
You’re back in the Stade de France – can the Italians dig deep and return to Paris?
We saw a lot of power, but very little finesse. In short, this game is currently a microcosm of international rugby.
The occasions Italy held the ball looked dangerous and scored the try of the game.
France played very little rugby, which is strange because, like Italy, they looked good holding the ball and trying to win the Italian defense. Les Bleus has the talent and they will certainly kick less in the second half and try to bring Thomas and Thomas more into play.
Italy attacks, seconds remain in the half. You have a penalty and you step into the corner.
From the resulting line-up – five meters away – Italy force France to defend well, but a kick-off ends the attack unhappily and this is the last game of the first 40 minutes.
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Easy – France has a good scrum and the ball comes to Danty. The big winger pushes his legs and strength from 10 meters away, although the Italian defense cannot stop the youngster. It is the first attempt for France.
Jalibert converted and absorbed a lot of Italian pressure. France is now in double digits and is in the lead.
From an attacking lineout, France works the ball to their full-back Dulin, who kicks forward and shows a clean pair of heels. Minozzi hits him for the ball to touch down. Better from the French.
Deep in France 22, Italy holds the ball in their hand and tries to shoot down the blindside, but unlike last time after 10 phases, they receive a penalty for holding on. More promising signs for the Italians.
So far it has been a determined performance by the Italians. They know this is a good chance of their first time winning in Paris and so far they are doing what they have to do. They look good in the crowd and win a penalty after a France substitute and the Italian strikers celebrate as if they scored a try. Good, impressive stuff from Franco Smith’s men who are now full of confidence.
Italy has a ball in hand for the first time in real time in this game and shows at least some inclination to keep the ball moving rather than just kicking into territory.
Very slowly the visitors sneak into the French half. Zanon breaks into French 22 and after Canna knocks on the door, he crosses the line after a fine dump and a dummy from Garbisi. That was a good score and shows what can happen when you sit back to create with the ball in hand rather than just kicking all the time. You miss the conversion, but Italy has the lead.
Garbisi and Jalibert exchange kicks before the French stalemate only touches Italy 22. From a brief line-up, Garbisi steps directly into Dulin’s throat, who this time kicks (AGAIN). However, Dulin hunts and collects his kick. Italy wins a scrum and clears its lines
Italy will be happier with the start than the French, they have to stay in the game as long as possible.
France finally lets the ball go, Thomas turns it wide, Woki comes into play after a throw from Jalibert, but the movements stop when the ball is thrown out. . . Hold the ball in your hand!
France has a lineout outside of Italy 22. The visitors gain possession of the ball and let themselves be brought into the resulting scrum. From there, they try to clear their lines. Garbisi’s kick doesn’t touch and the ball finds its way to Jalibert, who kicks. It is clear that the French are playing it safe, but shouldn’t they hold the ball, build the phases and test this Italian defense?
There have already been a few kicks – similar to a lot of international rugby at the moment. The latest kick is a pretty relaxed one from Teddy Thomas, he makes every five meters of territory and just like international rugby, this match needs a little flair and creativity.
Another mistake from Italy following the lineout. Garbisi tries to be cute but throws him full.
Violi knocks without any pressure and France has the first crush of the evening. Italy cannot afford to make such mistakes and give gifts to hosts. It’s a dominant French move, BUT Owens beats in Italy’s favor.
The French pack travels within the Italian 22, but this time Owens gives Italy the penalty for holding on and the visitors step in to touch. Good early signs from the inexperienced French strikers.
An early penalty for France, the hosts had a line-up before moving the ball inside and the Italians were penalized for not rolling away.
We’re on the road, the last time these teams met was at the Stade de France. The hosts won 35-22.
The teams are out and the national anthems are being sung – I’m a huge fan of both the French and Italian “songs”, in fact it is difficult to choose a preferred one – so I’m sticking to the fence (le cléture) in French and il recinzione in Italian in case you are wondering. . . ) and say I like both equally. Both sides gave rousing interpretations.
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It was a week for the tragic untimely death of sports legends and heroes, and French rugby mourned one of its yesterday’s stars, Christophe Dominici.
The little winger was a delight, not least when Les Bleus beat the All Blacks in the semi-finals of the 1999 World Cup.
Congratulations to @Nigelrefowens on his 100th birthday today. test. A great referee and a great man.
As Mick Cleary writes, “This triumph was not very Polish or fluent, but that’s what Eddie Jones wanted to see against a limited team from Wales. “
The Welshman is the first referee to officiate in 100 tests today. Usually the referee is the case type for many defeats and the target of fans who sometimes have quick-witted anger and vitriol. However, Owens is unique in being universally popular and respected.
Tonight could be the last test he’s responsible for. Before kick-off, he told our own Gavin Mairs about the emotions he will have on the field.
Italy coach Franco Smith only made four changes to the team that delivered this improved, bold performance against Scotland in Florence. Luca Sperandio replaces Mattia Bellini on the wing while the rest of the changes can be seen in a new row in the back row. Gloucester’s strong flanker Jake Polledri and the impressive Seb Negri are out and are replaced by Maxime Mbanda and Johan Meyer. Braam Steyn changes from the flank to No.. 8 to cover Polledri’s absence.
Beginning XV: M. Minozzi, J.. Trulla, M. Zanon, C.. Canna, L. Sperandio; Garbisi P, Violi M; D.. Fischetti, L.. Bigi (c), G.. Zilocchi, M.. Lazzaroni, N.. Cannone, M.. Mbanda, J.. Meyer, B.. Steyn.
Substitutions: L. Ghiraldini, S.. Ferrari, P. Ceccarelli, C.. Stoian, M.. Lamaro, S.. Varney, T.. Allan, F.. Mori.
Fabien Galthie has named up to five debutants in a heavily modified XV for today’s game. With a number of players unavailable due to an agreement between the Federation and the TOP 14, meaning that the players were only available for three games during this series of internationals, Galthie made 13 changes to the team that beat Scotland Has.
Fly half Matthieu Jalibert and wing Teddy Thomas are the only players who stay from the side that defeated the Scots last Sunday. The debutants are support Rodrigue Neti, Locks Killian Geraci and Baptiste Pesenti, center Jean-Pascal Barraque and winger Gabin Villiere, while Les Bleus is looking to win their fifth straight international.
Beginning XV: B Dulin, T Thomas, JP Barraque, J Danty, G Villiere, M Jalibert, B Serin (c), R Neti, P Mauvaka, D Aldegheri, K Geraci, B Peseti, C Woki, S Malacou , A Jelonch.
It seems odd to say that winning a boring arm wrestle against Scotland in Murrayfield is a sign that France is at least close to their best again. But after seeing that competition in Edinburgh – which Les Bleus shadowed 22-15 in a kicking competition that did little to support the argument that international rugby doesn’t get boring – it’s tough this France isn’t to close are indeed as a force back.
England may disagree, but there is certainly a reason France have been the best team in the northern hemisphere this year. The victory over Scotland last week certainly helps that argument. While it was tight, as the scoreline suggests, you never really got the feeling that the French were going to be anything but winners. It was the kind of match they have lost many times in the last 10 years, but at Scottish headquarters last Sunday, Fabien Galthie’s team kept the hosts at a distance and did what they had to do to win and Autumn Nations To get cup points.
That result means all they have to do is avoid losing to Italy tonight to secure their place in the final against England in Twickenham next Sunday. Not only are they expected to avoid losing today, but also to win well. This despite the 13 changes that head coach Galthie had to make – more on that later.
In yet another sign that Les Bleus is back, France and England must be greatly envied and Stade Francais flankers Sekou Macalou and Anthony Jelonch of Castres can both be seen tonight.
The Italians had another tough year and last week’s cancellation of the Fiji game didn’t help them – the Pacific Islanders had a Covid-19 outbreak on the squad. Before that non-clash, Italy looked fine in a 28-17 loss to Scotland, but tonight there are plenty of tips to lose against the improving French.
Stay here to see the pre-game analysis and see if Italy can come up with a surprise.
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France’s national rugby team, Baptiste Serin, Sekou Macalou, Fabien Galthié, France
News – GB – France defeated Italy in preparation for the Autumn Nations Cup final against England in Twickenham