Six Nations Game 12 - France vs Italy (25-13)
Despite Italy's persistance, France managed to pick up a vital victory at the Stade de France to keep their Six Nations title hopes alive.
Marc Lievremont rang the changes once more, with several new caps. But the gamble paid off, to keep the Gallic side in the running for a showdown next week with their Celtic rivals Wales.
The French were only just in front at half time, partly thanks to a try from new boy Anthony Floch's [right] try. Initially, Captain Lionel Nallet thought he had scored, but the ref judged he's not taken a tap-and-go penalty correctly. The French pack were dominant for at a maul, and then Francois Trinh-Duc put a lovely chip for Julien Malzieu who collected and fed Floch for his first try.
Minutes later, after an Italian penalty brought the score to 7-3, the Azzurri looked like scoring until Gonzalo Canale spilled the ball with the line beckoning. Then Dmitri Yachvili took another penalty to bring the score to 13-6 at half time.
In the second half, Yannick Jauzion [right] scored a lovely try from Yachvili's chip ahead, to put France further in the lead. But France weren't getting it all their own way. Italy won a lineout from a corner penalty, and the powerful Italian pack drove Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni over the line for a touchdown. The conversion made it 18-13 and the Azzurri were chasing Les Bleus all the way.
Aurelien Rougerie almost had another try, were it not for Mirco Bergamasco's try-saving tackle, holding up the Frenchman's arm over the line, the video ref having to be consulted before no-try was given.
Rougerie made amends moments later, when he took an excellent pass from Damien Traille and touched down safely, taking the French safely away from the Italians. An entertaining game, France were the victors at 25-13.