Just a week earlier Italy were celebrating at Murrayfield, but their Rome homecoming didn’t offer much to be delighted about, as a scrappy match went one way, with visitors France bouncing back to ease to a comfortable 29-0 victory.
France avoided being on the losing side three times in succession following back to back defeats to Ireland and Wales. This result never looked in doubt, despite a poor first half that thanks in part to the wet conditions, included multiple handling errors (reportedly 37 in total) from both sides.
When France did finally turn it on, they did so in style, with fullback Scott Spedding sparking a lovely counter attack that ended with big Yoann Maestri trotting over in the corner.
Mathieu Bastareaud powered over on full time, and the pressure on coach Philippe Saint-Andre was eased somewhat, with his side still in with a mathematical chance of snatching the title.
“In the first half we were able to wear them out physically and we were at their throats in defence,” Saint-Andre said after the game. “It wasn’t a perfect match but we’ll take all the positives from it and today we had a real French team.”
The weather hampered the occasion, but Italy coach Jacques Brunel didn’t use that as an excuse.
“The rain wasn’t our problem, the French defence was, especially in terms of winning the ball and shaping our game. That’s where we had problems, not with the weather,” he said.
France are now on four points with a match to play away to England next weekend. Italy, on two points, host Wales earlier in the day. England, Ireland and Wales all have six points, and along with France, will be hoping for a perfect performance and a bit of luck come the final day.