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Saturday, 1 April, 2000, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Gallant Italy edged out in Paris
Mazzucato
Mazzucato was too hot for France
France 42-31 Italy

A hugely spirited performance by Italy was not enough to prevent Six Nations defeat by France in Paris, in a blistering match that featured nine tries.

Six Nations Championship
The Azzurri held parity with the home side for 60 minutes, but looked to be sliding towards another battering as Walter Cristofoletto was sent off midway through the second half.

But two tries at the death, one for winger Nicola Mazzucato and a second for Alessandro Troncon, allowed retiring fly-half Diego Dominguez to sign off his career with a conversion that took his championship tally above 60 points.

Centre Luca Martin and scrum-half Troncon touched down for the Italians in the first 40 mins, with Dominguez adding a drop goal and two conversions.
Match facts
France: Tries: Penaud (2), Castaignede, Pelous, Benazzi. Cons: Dourthe (4). Pens: Dourthe (3).
Italy: Tries: Martin, Troncon (2), Mazzucato. Cons:Dominguez (4). Drop goal: Dominguez.
Sent off: Cristofoletto (Italy)
France responded through fly-half Alain Penaud and a suspect try by Thomas Castaignede to give France a narrow three-point buffer at the break.

Second-half scores for skipper Fabien Pelous and another for Penaud sealed the win, despite 14-man Italy conjuring a scare in the last 10 minutes.

The match began frenetically and did not slow down until well into the second half.

Richard Dourthe gave the home side the lead after six minutes, but the French pack was constantly on the back foot as the harrying Italians forced error after error.

Dominguez put the visitors on the board with a sweetly-struck drop goal from just outside the French 22 after 13 minutes, then a powerful set of pick-and-drives by the Italian pack saw them surge within 30m of the home line.

Dominguez: Signed off in style
Martin came flying in from the centre, gathered the ball as it rolled back from a ruck and raced straight through the middle to score between the posts. Dominguez made no mistake with the conversion.

France came thundering back and eight minutes later levelled the scores as Olivier Magne's midfield crash ball was recycled back to Penaud, who skipped through a gap in the Italian defence to sprint into the corner.

The Italians hit back instantly, with another powerful rolling forward drive to within the shadow of the French posts.

The home side once again demonstrated their woeful close defence as Troncon nipped around the blindside to score unopposed.

France worked into the opposition's half and caught the Italians offside. Dourthe converted the kick and Walter Cristofoletto was sin-binned for his second consecutive match for a professional foul.
Cicero tackled
Italy gave France a scare in the last 10 mins
The home side went ahead in controversial fashion on 33 minutes when a quick line-out by the French found Emile Ntamack, who hacked ahead over the visitors' line.

Castaignede won the race for the touchdown, but looked to have knocked the ball forward over the line, rather than getting downward pressure.

Within minutes of the restart France - fresh from a roasting by coach Bernard Laporte - stretched their lead to 10 points by mauling captain Pelous over for their third try.

The tempo of the match slowed perceptibly and a fine drizzle contributed to a scrappy series of handling errors. Dourthe kicked another penalty to extend France's lead.

Fighting broke out on 59 minutes as substitute Benazzi found himself on the wrong side of the ruck and the wrong end of a vigorous bout of rucking by Cristofoletto.

The Italian blindside received his second yellow card and was sent off for his trouble, while Benazzi positioned himself on the end of a neat reverse flick by Aubin Hueber to score yet another try for France.

Penaud snatched a second score on 67 minutes, while exhausted Italy, who refused to lay down and die even as they compensated for being a man short, pulled a try back through Mazzucato.

And it was Troncon who ensured the French finished the match under their own posts as he poached a second touchdown to allow Dominguez the honour of closing out the match.

Teams

France: 15-Thomas Castaignede; 14-Phillipe Bernat-Salles , 13-Richard Dourthe, 12-Emile Ntamack, 11-David Bory, 10-Alain Penaud, 9-Aubin Hueber, 1-Christian Califano, 2-Marco Dal Maso, 3-Franck Tournaire, 4-Fabien Pelous (capt), 5-Olivier Brouzet, 6-Lionel Mallier, 7-Olivier Magne, 8-Thomas Lievremont.

Italy team:

15-Mathew Pini; 14-Nicola Mazzucato, 13-Luca Martin, 12-Nicholas Zisti, 11-Cristian Stoica; 10-Diego Dominguez, 9-Alessandro Troncon; 8-Andrea De Rossi, 7-Mauro Bergamasco, 6-Walter Cristofoletto, 5-Andrea Gritti, 4-Carlo Cecchinato, 3-Tino Paoletti, 2-Alessandro Moscardi, 1-Andrea Lo Cicero

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See also:

31 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Dominguez to bow out in France
19 Mar 00 | Six Nations
O'Driscoll treble seals historic win
18 Mar 00 | Six Nations
Healey hat-trick sparks Roman romp
30 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Pini back for Italian finale
29 Mar 00 | Rugby Union
Penaud back in French fold
01 Oct 99 | Italy
Key player: Diego Dominguez
31 Jan 00 | Six Nations
Italy: The Sixth Nation