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France remains on top

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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

PARIS - A devastating burst of 21 points in the opening 15 minutes of the second-half saw France beat Italy 30-10 in their Six Nations clash at the Stade de France yesterday and record back-to-back wins for the first time since November 2012.

Tries by Louis Picamoles, Wesley Fofana and debutant Hugo Bonneval — all converted by Jean-Marc Doussain who scored 15 points in all —saw France pull away from Italy after a dull first-half had seen them lead only 9-3 at the break.

The match descended into an ill-tempered affair by the end with replacement props Rabah Slimane of France and Italy's Michele Rizzo sent off by Jaco Peyper after the Frenchman reacted badly to the latter's uppercuts.

It was the first time that two players had been sent off in a Test match since France versus England in 1992 which saw two French players red carded.

The French can travel to two-time defending champions Wales on Friday week with an extra bounce in their step as the last time France beat England and Italy in Paris, in 2010, they went on to win the Grand Slam.

The two teams traded early penalty kicks as France, through Doussain, took a 9-3 halftime lead.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre must have fired his players up at halftime because within four minutes they had extended their lead by seven points, Picamoles managing to ground the ball despite an excellent tackle by Tommaso Iannone for his sixth try in 40 Tests.

The floodgates had opened and Fofana it was who after a quiet opening 40 minutes showed his class breaking down the blindside from outside the Italian 22 and despite Luke McLean's despairing tackle he went over for his ninth try in 23 Test appearances.

Doussain converted brilliantly from wide out on the right for 23-3 and the Marseillaise rang out from all round the ground.

It was well deserved as the French came up with a superb third try in the 52nd minute.

Fofana intercepted inside his own 22 and running it back into the Italian half before offloading to Yoann Huget, who was able to get the ball away to Bonneval as he was tackled by Leonardo Sarto and the debutant touched down -- Doussain converted for 30-3.

The Italians did get a deserved try at the end as young wing Iannone went over which replacement fly-half Luciano Orquera converted.





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