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Monday February 10, 2014 MYT 1:57:03 AM
Monday February 10, 2014 MYT 1:57:03 AM
by gregory blachier
PARIS (Reuters) - France scored three second-half tries in 10 minutes to beat Italy 30-10 in the Six Nations championship on Sunday and maintain their perfect start to the competition.
Louis Picamoles, Wesley Fofana and debutant winger Hugo Bonneval all touched down between the 43rd and 53rd minutes as France sealed victory in spite of a dull, error-ridden first half at the Stade de France.
Jean-Marc Doussain kicked France ahead 9-3 at halftime, with Tommaso Allan scoring Italy's points after both sides had wasted their first two attempts on goal.
The home team, who had made a strong start in last weekend's opening 26-24 victory over England, showed much more attacking intent after the break.
Picamoles surged from a maul to cross the line three minutes into the second half, Fofana ran down the right wing for the second and Bonneval finished off a splendid counter-attack to put France 30-3 up, with Doussain converting the three tries.
"We had to push for some attacks but the Italians were strong in defence. We had to adapt," man of the match Fofana said in a pitch-side interview.
The hosts were content to see out the match as gallant Italy tried to force their way back into the game.
The visitors were rewarded with a late try by Tommaso Iannone.
Sebastien Vahaamahina was yellow carded for France and team mate Rabah Slimani and Italy's Michele Rizzo both saw red late on after punches were thrown on the pitch.
The win saw France join Ireland, who defeated holders Wales 26-3 in Dublin, on top of the table with four points.
England drew level with Wales on two points after Saturday's win over Scotland who like Italy have yet to earn a point.
The opening was dominated by the boot before France quickly camped themselves in the opposition half, having almost total possession in the first 10 minutes.
They failed to take advantage of Italy's lack of discipline, however, with Doussain missing fifth and seventh-minute penalties and flyhalf Jules Plisson sending a drop kick attempt wide.
Italy eventually gained a foothold but they were just as wasteful when aiming for the posts, with centre Gonzalo Garcia missing two attempts from distance in cold and windy conditions.
Doussain eventually opened the scoring for the home team after 27 minutes and then added two more penalties to Allan's one to put France 9-3 in front at the interval.
France returned from the locker-room with more attacking intent and blew Italy away with three quick tries.
Picamoles powered his way to the first after breaking through a maul on the left wing and Doussain converted to make it 16-3.
Two minutes later Fofana skipped past Luke McLean's tackle and ran to the line with a mixture of power and pace.
The centre played a key role again eight minutes later when he intercepted Mirco Bergamasco's pass inside his own half, setting up Yoann Huget who brought the ball to the line before finding Bonneval in support for the third.
France failed to press home their advantage but after Italian substitute Tobias Botes had a try ruled out by the television match official, Iannone went over in the corner to give the scoreline a measure of respectability.
(Editing by Josh Reich)
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