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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 February 2006, 15:53 GMT
France 37-12 Italy
MATCH SUMMARY
France fly-half Frederic Michalak feels the pressure in Paris
France (8) 37
Tries: Lievremont, Nyanga, De Villiers, Rougerie, Michalak
Cons:Yachvili 3
Pens: Elissalde, Yachvili
Italy (12) 12
Pen: Pez 3
Drop: Pez
France continued their stuttering start to the Six Nations despite a five-try win over Italy in Paris.

The French struggled in the opening half and although Thomas Lievremont scored a well-worked try, four Ramiro Pez kicks gave Italy a 12-8 lead.

France improved after half-time and Yannick Nyanga crossed in the corner to put Les Bleus ahead for the first time.

Italy battled bravely but tries from Pieter de Villiers, Aurelien Rougerie and Frederic Michalak sealed the win.

The final three tries came in the closing 15 minutes and put a gloss on the French performance.

And France coach Bernard Laporte knows that he still has a lot to ponder as he prepares for the visit of England on 12 March.

A nervy French side enjoyed all the early possession but apart from a second-minute penalty from scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde and a stunning burst from Christophe Dominici down the line, they could not take control of the game.

In the next game against England if we want to win we will have to do much better than we did today
France full-back Thomas Castaignede

The Parisian crowd, already on edge after the performance against Ireland, were less than happy with the start and fly-half Michalak bore the brunt of their ire.

Italy stuck to their game plan and got into the faces of the French, forcing a host of unforced errors and Pez took full advantage, kicking three penalties to give his side a six-point lead.

On 26 minutes, France finally showed a glimmer of what they are capable of when Rougerie began a flowing move which led to Elissalde firing a perfect cross-field kick to Lievremont on the wing, and the number eight had the easy task of touching down.

But the threatened French blitz did not follow and Pez added a drop goal to put his side in charge at the break.

Fresh from undoubtedly hearing some harsh words in the dressing room, France came out firing but the mood at the Stade de France darkened suddenly when they inexplicably could not find touch with two early penalties.

The game was far looser than in the first half, suiting the French, and substitute scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili reduced the deficit to just one point with a penalty on 48 minutes.

Almost immediately Italy had the chance to reply but Pez's usually reliable kicking deserted him as he fired a 51st-minute penalty wide.

And France took the lead for the first time five minutes later when the impressive Thomas Castaignede made a superb break from deep before feeding flanker Nyanga.

The score lifted the home side and when lock Carlo Del Fava was sin-binned for bringing down a rolling maul, the pendulum swung decisively in the home side's favour.

They took a stranglehold when prop Peter de Villiers emerged with the ball after the France pack powered over the line with 15 minutes to go.

Suddenly France started running the ball at every opportunity and Rougerie and Michalak touched down late on as the Italian defence started to tire.


France: Castaignede; Rougerie, Fritz, Traille, Dominici; Michalak, J-B Elissalde; Milloud, Ibanez, De Villiers; Pelous (capt), Thion; Nyanga, Magne, Lievremont.
Replacements: Bruno, Marconnet, Nallet, Bonnaire, Yachvili, Marty, Heymans.

Italy: Stoica; Canavosio, Canale, Mi Bergamasco, Nitoglia; Pez, Griffen; Perugini, Ongaro, Nieto; Del Fava, Bortolami (capt); Sole, Ma Bergamasco, Parisse.
Replacements: Festuccia, Lo Cicero, Castrogiovanni, Bernabo, Zanni, Picone, Galon.




WATCH AND LISTEN
Highlights: France 37-12 Italy


Interview: Thomas Castaignede


Interview: Italy's Ramiro Pez



SEE ALSO
France v Italy match statistics
25 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Six Nations photos
25 Feb 06 |  Photo Galleries
Italy summon Del Fava for France
23 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Castaignede in team to face Italy
22 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Jauzion ruled out of Six Nations
21 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Italy still learning - Berbizier
11 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Italy 16-31 England
11 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
Laporte upbeat after France win
11 Feb 06 |  Six Nations
France 43-31 Ireland
11 Feb 06 |  Six Nations


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