Italy stun France 22-21 for historic win

by Staff Writer

France's World Cup and Six Nations hopes are in disarray after they slumped to a 22-21 loss to perennial battlers Italy at the Stadio Flaminio on Saturday.

Italy's Mirco Bergamasco kicked a penalty five minutes from time to score an historic victory.

It was the hosts' first ever Six Nations win against the French, whose championship hopes are all but in tatters following a second successive defeat.

France coach Marc Lievremont was visibly seething with anger even over 30 minutes after the final whistle.

"I haven't bothered talking to the players yet, I just spoke to Titi (captain Thierry Dusautoir)," said the 42-year-old, for whom little has gone right since guiding France to their first Grand Slam since 2004 last year.

Lievremont, who steadfastly refused to step down last November following the humiliating 59-16 home defeat by Australia, said that the Italians had shown more hunger and more desire than his side.

"They were a lot more determined than us and they fought physically from start to finish whereas we were absent and not very keen to engage," Lievremont said.

For Italy the stunning and dogged performance will have banished memories of their 59-13 capitulation to England at Twickenham earlier this season.

Bergamasco kicked five penalties and a conversion for a personal haul of 17 points with man-of-the-match Andrea Masi adding Italy's try.

For Italy coach Nick Mallett it was a victory he had been yearning for and perhaps will make the Italian rugby federation reflect about whether they should replace him after the World Cup by Frenchman Brunel.

"This win against a good French team is a huge huge achievement, I am so proud of the players and proud of what they've done for the Italian supporters," said the former South Africa coach.

France made a shaky start, knocking on from the kick-off and giving away a free-kick at the subsequent scrum before captain Thierry Dusautoir was penalised for straying offside and Bergamasco kicked the hosts into a second minute lead.

However, it didn't take long for France's greater class, and mostly speed, to tell.

On the quarter-hour mark Francois Trinh-Duc kicked ahead and although Masi blocked off Yoann Huget to allow Bergamasco to recover the ball deep in the Italian 22, when Masi went to kick clear he failed to find touch.

France spread it left and Vincent Clerc chipped over Gonzalo Canale, easily outstripping him in a foot-race to touch down, although Morgan Parra missed the extras.

Canale made a great break on 24 minutes but lacked support, although France were penalised for offside and Bergamasco kicked another easy penalty, reducing the arrears to two points at the break.

France led 8-6 at halftime with Morgan Parra slotting a penalty early in the second term to stretch their lead.

Italy's resistance was seemingly broken on 51 minutes as a quick tap pass from Parra found Trinh-Duc, who stepped inside two men, burst through a gap and passed back inside for his scrum-half to go under the posts.

Parra scored a converted try five minutes later to put France up 18-6.

Italy hit back with a try to Masi in the corner with Bergamasco converting to put the Italians within striking distance.

Parra kicked another penalty but then two more from Bergamasco gave Italy an unlikely one-point lead with only five minutes to go.

Join the discussion

Advertisement