Six Nations 2021: Italy 10-50 France

By Patric Ridge 7 February 2021 11
Six Nations 2021: Italy 10-50 France

France made light work of Italy to open their Six Nations account for 2021 with a 50-10 rout in Rome, picking up from where they left off last year.

Les Bleus missed out on the championship only on points difference in 2020, and despite missing the influential Romain Ntamack on Saturday they had little trouble in overcoming Italy, who have now lost their last 28 Six Nations matches.

Dylan Cretin, Gael Fickou and Arthur Vincent crossed for France in a high-quality first-half display, with Ntamack's replacement Matthieu Jalibert on point with the boot.

Brice Dulin's try set the tone for an equally impressive second half, with 2020 player of the tournament Antoine Dupont and Teddy Thomas wrapping up a resounding bonus-point triumph, Luca Sperandio's superb solo try proving small consolation.

It took just five minutes for France to score the tournament's first try – Thomas' break resulting in a sustained push, which was finished off by Cretin under the sticks.

Jalibert added the extras and then made it 10-0 with a simple penalty, yet Italy regained some composure and got on the scoresheet through Paolo Garbisi's three-pointer.

Italy's work was swiftly undone, though – Dupont prodding through for Fickou to touch down.

Dupont turned on the style again moments later. Gabin Villiere pounced on Jacopo Trulla's error and found France's onrushing scrum-half, who displayed great awareness and unerring skill to tee up Vincent.

The TMO denied Italy's Monty Ioane a try before the break, and the hosts' frustration was compounded when Dulin slid over in the corner after the restart.

Thomas' turn of pace did for Italy's defence again as he burst through to play in Dupont in the 52nd minute, with France's number nine returning the favour four minutes later.

Jailbert converted all three tries to maintain his 100 per cent kicking record, and Fabien Galthie was subsequently able to rest his star creators.

Sperandio latched onto his own kick to grab a consolation for Italy, but Thomas helped himself to a second to have the final say and take France to 50.


Les Bleus licking their lips but sorry Italy found wanting

Italy worked extremely hard in the first half, yet they had just three points in the way of a reward, and France's quality simply proved too much.

Only Ireland managed to match France's tally of 17 tries in the 2020 tournament, and Les Bleus already have six on the board for this year's edition, while doubts will remain over Italy's credentials to take part in this competition.

No Ntamack, no problem

Ntamack was in sensational form throughout 2020 and will no doubt be a pivotal figure for France heading into the 2023 World Cup, but Les Bleus hardly suffered in his injury-enforced absence.

In 2018, Jalibert became the first teenager to start at fly-half in the championship since Neil Jenkins did so for Wales in 1991, and he returned to show the quality in depth at France's disposal, while the magnificent Dupont ran the show, becoming just the seventh player to assist three tries in a Six Nations match and later only the second to set up four.

What's next?

Italy face a daunting trip to London to face defending champions England next Saturday, while France are in action against Ireland in Dublin a day later.

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Patric Ridge

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