France delivered a poor performance in their Six Nations opener but won 30-12 over a dogged Italy.
The French were careless at times, but tries from Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Malzieu, Vincent Clerc and Wesley Fofana were enough to give the Six Nations favourites the victory.
Italy were the better team early on as France struggled to gain any rhythm. It was the Franch who took the lead from a Dimitri Yachvili penalty, however. Italy’s hard work was rewarded in the 17th minute as they deservedly equalised through a sweetly struck Kristopher Burton drop-goal.
France scored the first try of the match in the 21st minute to gain a stranglehold on the contest. Rougerie took a good line and ran through a weak Italian defensive effort. The try was Rougerie’s tenth in the Six Nations.
Yachvili added the conversion, while Burton reduced the arrears to 10-6 with a penalty. France led 15-6 lead at the interval after a Malzieu try, however.
France took control of the game with the well-worked try in the 35th minute. The French stole the ball at a scrum and broke quickly. The ball was thrown to Malzieu, who was on the wing around midfield. The Frenchman pushed aside four Italian defenders as he tore down the sideline and touched down to make it 15-6.
The teams swapped penalties early in the first half before a Vincent Clerc try finished the game as a contest.
There looked to be little danger as the French slowly built around midfield. Trinc-Duh then cleverly kicked forward twice to suddenly create an opening. Rougerie kicked forward again, while Vincert Clerc grabbed the ball five yards from the try line and touched down to put the result beyond doubt.
Italy added another penalty in the 60th minute, but the last meaningful action of the match was another French try. After Quintin Geldenhuys was given a yellow card, France patiently kept the ball near the Italian try line. The ball was repeatedly recycled and sent out to the left wing, where Fofana scored for France.
France will be disappointed with their performance and Les Bleus will need a much better performance against Ireland next week.