Italy v France

Conor O'Shea's side look to build on Twickenham performance as they bid to avoid wooden spoon

Patrick Madden Sat, Mar 11
LIVE: Italy v France

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  • Good afternoon!

    How are the heads?

    Last night's result was bitterly disappointing, but the best thing about rugby on a Friday is you get to do it all again the next day.

    Today England welcome Scotland to Twickenham for the most important Calcutta Cup in recent memory - but first up Conor O'Shea's Italy take on France in Rome.

    We'll be bringing you all the action today so get settled and keep your fingers crossed results fall Ireland's way.

    Come on!!!


    ITALY:  Edoardo Padovani; Angelo Esposito, Michele Campagnaro, Luke McLean, Giovanbattista Venditti; Carlo Canna,Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lovotti, Leonardo Ghiraldini, Lorenzo Cittadini; Marco Fuser, Dries van Schalkwyk; Braam Steyn, Simone Favaro, Sergio Parisse (captain). Replacements: Tommasso D’Apice, Sami Panico, Dario Chistolini, George Biagi, Maxime Mbanda, Giorgio Bronzini, Tommaso Benvenuti, Luca Sperandio.

    FRANCE:  Brice Dulin, Noa Nakaitaci, Rami Lamerat, Gail Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin, Louis Picamoles, Kevin Gourdon, Fabien Sanconnie, Yoann Maestri, Julien Le Devedec, Rabah Slimani, Guilhem Guirado, Cyril Baille. Replacements: Christopher Tolofua, Uini Atonio, Eddy Ben Arous, Paul Jedrasiak, Bernard Le Roux, Antoine Dupont, Francois Trinh-Duc, Yoann Huget.

  • Before the tournament started Italy would have probably seen their final two fixtures as their most winnable. Unfortunately for them France have been rejuvenated under Guy Noves, while Scotland are now serious Championship contenders.

    O'Shea's side were beaten out of the gate in their first two games against Wales and then Ireland, but thanks to some ingenius tactics they gave England a real fright at Twickenham last time out before going down 36-15.

    They should have been give a bonus point for the way they had Eddie Jones and co throwing their toys out of the pram after their flimsy grasp of the offside rule was brought into question.

  • Over in Cardiff Ireland women are beating Wales 12-7 with less than 10 minutes to go.
  • The teams are in the tunnel in Rome.

    Ireland women have done what the men couldn't and beaten Wales - final score 12-7 at the Arms Park. The Grand Slam is on.

  • Looks a lovely, sunny day in Rome.

    And now we get to listen to two great anthems. What a time to be alive.

  • Italy wearing white, France in blue.

    Lopez has the ball in hand, we're off!

  • 1 min: Good early Italian pick and go from the first ruck before Gori clears well from the base. Vakatawa, reinstated on the left after being dropped for the Ireland game, knocks it into touch and Italy have a lineout on halfway.
  • 2 min: Good early possession for Italy, stretching the visitors on the left through Campagnaro and then moving it back through the hands and getting into the 22 on the right. They set up a maul under the posts and have a penalty coming after France collapse it.
  • TRY ITALY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • What a start for the hosts. They have a penalty advantage and move it left to Canna who runs a good line on the outside shoulder and offloads to skipper Parisse who isn't going to be stopped from five metres out.

    Canna can't match his kicking with his running lines and makes a hash of the conversion.


  • 5 min: Immediate response from France, Gourdon bursting into the 22 and then Cerin picking and sniping but France are penalised at the next ruck. McLean can't find touch with the penalty - it's the little things which let the Italians down.
  • 7 min: First scrum of the game for Italy just outside their own 10 and they get munched by the French pack, Cittadini popping up.

    There's no advantage so Lopez will go for goal, and he nails a straight one.


  • 9 min: Italian lineout on the French 10 and they set up the maul and grind infield. There's a high tackle and they have a penalty coming. Parisse takes a hospital pass and holds his man off brilliantly before flicking a lovely ball behind his back and setting free the lumbering Fuser. They move it right with men over but the final pass to Esposito is poor and he can't wriggle his way over.
  • 11 min: France under pressure defending the five metre scrum and Italy slowing them down brilliantly, refusing to commit at the breakdown. Eventually Serin gets it back to Lopez in the pocket and he clears.
  • 13 min: Italy get clean lineout ball and then keep smashing the gainline, Favaro taking a good inside ball from McLean and surging into the 22. Good go forward ball until a brilliant turnover from Guirado allows France to clear again. Very positive from the Azzurri.
  • 15 min: Italy building the phases under the French posts with a penalty coming after Le Devedec didn't wrap in the tackle.  

    Play breaks down and Italy have a penalty under the posts, which Canna taps over.

    16 MIN: ITALY 8 FRANCE 3

  • 17 min: Fickou wins the restart and Vakatawa surges down the left and into the 22. His offload goes loose but suddenly France are inside the five and hammering away, Fickou nearly squeezing over. They use the width on the right and Vakatawa is over the line, but it was a double movement.

    Back for a penalty, which Lopez slots from an angle.

    18 MIN: ITALY 8 FRANCE 6  

  • TRY FRANCE!!!!!!!!!!!
  • That is the France of old. Dulin fields the ball deep and sees the space, carrying and finding Lamerat who brings Vakatawa into play off his left wing. All the momentum is with the visitors and Fickou sees a mismatch in midfield, throws a sublime dummy and canters over for the score. One end to the other and across the line in a matter of seconds.

    Lopez converts.

    21 MIN: ITALY 8 FRANCE 13

  • 23 min: Confident ball retention from France in midfield until Lopez stabs a kick straight at McLean who does brilliantly to claim it and kick upfield. Picamoles does well to track back and cover. He loses it but the chasing Campagnaro knocks forward.
  • 26 min: Italy win another lineout and maul their way up to the 22. Fuser and then Parisse make good carries and the ball slows down - but France get penalised for trying to kill it.  

    Easy kick for Canna and he makes no mistake.

    28 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 13

  • 29 min: France put the pressure on Italy from the restart again and the hosts get pinged for offside after failing to claim it. Penalty is at a tight angle so Lopez goes for touch.
  • 30 min: France look to maul but they can't get any real traction and a good counter from Italy sees them awarded a scrum.
  • 32 min: The scrum is messy and has to be reset after it wheels. Italy under a bit of pressure, and second time round they get penalised after Cittadini pops up.  
  • This time Lopez goes for goal from out on the right, and strikes it sweetly.

    34 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 16

  • 35 min: Canna sends up a high one but Italy's chase is poor and Vakatawa can claim inside his 22. He thinks he's called a mark but the referee doesn't hear it so France have to play their way out.
  • 37 min: Another garryowen, this time from McLean, and Campagnaro knocks it forward as he challenges Dulin.
  • 38 min: Picamoles looks under pressure at the base of the scrum but again Italy concede a scrum penalty.
  • 39 min: Serin sees a gap in the middle of the park and dances through it, scampering up to the 22. Vakatawa comes in off his wing and dances out of two tackles but then the inevitable knock on comes and France can breathe.
  • HT: ITALY 11 FRANCE 16
  • The teams are back out, and we're back underway!
  • 41 min: Lopez clears the restart into touch and then France pinch the lineout. France work it right and Fickou stabs a kick through and nearly runs onto it. Italy then use the width and Esposito kicks down the flank but it's easy for the French cover.
  • 42 min: Penalty advantage to France after a high tackle on the diminutive Serin.

    Chance for Lopez to extend France's lead, nails it from the left.

    43 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 19

  • 44 min: Another France score is stopped by a brilliant covering tackle. Fickou carries from deep and arcs to the left and breaks the line. He draws his man and frees Vakatawa who doesn't quite have the gas to burn away from Padovani who covers and drags him into touch. Try saver.
  • 46 min: France have the ball in the Italian 22 but they try one pass too many once again and it goes loose. Italy clear but France run it back and Picamoles slips a lovely offload to Guirado who carries into the 22. Serin is impeded at the base and France have a penalty, which Lopez sticks into the corner.
  • TRY FRANCE!!!!!!!!!!
  • And that's probably game over. Italy do well to hold up the lineout maul so France move it to Lopez who is held up. At the next phase Vakatawa comes inside on a simple loop and cruises through to score.

    48 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 26

  • 49 min: Italy have possesison on the French 22 but it's a bit ragged. They have a penalty coming but there's a bit of handbags before the Azzurri can take it. McLean nudges it into the corner.
  • 50 min: Parisse is the target man and he looks to have lost it - but Gourdon is penalised for impeding him. Italy stick it back into the corner.
  • 51 min: Italy set the lineout maul but France to well to slow it down. The hosts are keeping it in the tight and sticking it up the jumper with a penalty advantage coming. Italy knock it forward, so it's back for the penalty which McLean puts into the corner again.
  • 53 min: Italy win the lineout again but it squirts out to winger Esposito. At the next phase prop Lovotti spills a simple short ball and the Italian pressure fails to pay.
  • 55 min: Italy take a short lineout on the left looking for quick ball and McLean runs back into traffic. Italy retaining the ball well though and Parisse bursts into the 22. Campagnaro gets a hospital pass and tries to slip one out of the back of his hand and Fickou pounces on the loose ball. But he was offside, so Italy go back into the corner - they really need to make this territory count.
  • TRY ITALY!!!!!!!!!!


  • Replacement Bronzini looks to have forced his way over in the sunshine on the left but replays show he was brilliantly held up by a double-tackle from Dulin and Picamoles.

    57 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 26

  • 58 min: Five metre scrum for Italy but they've been far from dominant at the set piece thus far. Predictably it's a mess and has to be rest a few times until Italy are awarded a free kick. Parisse taps quickly and Italy have the ball on the French five but spill it forward under the posts. Doh.
  • 62 min: Italy force a turnover in midfield and after a good carry by Mbanda they have men over on the left - but Parisse knocks it forward. Story of Italy's day.
  • 63 min: Good hands from France and Lamerat bursts the line. McLean does well to get a hand on the big centre to hold him up before Campagnaro follows up to cover and the ball goes forward, before another Italian knock on means they'll have a five metre scrum. Great run from the French 13.  
  • 64 min: This time Italy hold firm and manage to get out via Parisse and Bronzini.
  • 65 min: Not many options for Serin so he dinks a lovely kick over the top and Esposito has to carry ingoal and France have a five metre scrum.
  • TRY FRANCE!!!!!!!
  • Easy as it gets for Picamoles, who picks at the base and runs through winger Esposito and under two tackles to score.

    Lopez converts.

    67 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 33

  • Owen Farrell starts for England later after he recovered from falling over Eddie Jones's dog.
  • 70 min: A brilliant bullocking run from Gourdon gets France up to the Italian 22 but when they look to use the numbers left it's spilled forward.
  • TRY FRANCE!!!!!

    France soften Italy up again, Picamoles making a lovely offload to Trinh-Duc and the ball is recycled to Arous who steps inside and over for an easy finish. But then the ref checks with the TMO and after an age he decides Picamoles foot was just in touch even though it wasn't.

    72 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 33

  • 74 min: An Italian scrum holds firm and Canna carries into the French half. Italy looking to use a bit of width and Canna makes another good half break but then Esposito knocks on at the base. So frustrating.
  • TRY FRANCE!!!!!!
  • And there's the bonus point. Nakaitaci bounces a tackle and offloads to Gourdon who carries and slips in Dulin on the right. The full back dances past the covering Esposito and across for the score.

    77 MIN: ITALY 11 FRANCE 40

  • 79 min: Esposito intercepts to stop a dangerous French attack and Italy look to play from deep, Canna breaking and releasing  new man Sperandito. The break slows down and France get numbers back but the hosts have the ball.
  • TRY ITALY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • Italy finish with a flourish, they retain the ball and they're patient, working it out to Esposito on the right who dives to score in the corner.

    Canna nails a touchline conversion!

    80 MIN: ITALY 18 FRANCE 40

  • FT: ITALY 18 FRANCE 40
  • Right, time for a quick brew then I'll be heading across to bring you all the action from Twickenham as England take on the Scots.

    Cya there!