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Sebastien Chabal - RBS Six Nations Man of the Match against Italy in Rome
Inpho/Billy Stickland
France Off To A Flyer
2 February 2007, 3:22 pm
By Pat Geraghty
France, Ireland's opponents in Croke Park in a week, got their RBS Six Nations campaign off to the best possible start with a 39-3 win over Italy in Rome.
It was a win they richly deserved after a very iffy start and the Italians will wonder what might have been, had they made better use of their opportunities at the start of the game.

They had two opportunities to open the scoring but missed penalties in the 2nd and 8thth minutes before French out-half David Skrela showed how to do it when he squeezed over a penalty in the 11th minute.

By this stage Italy had lost their out-half Andrea Scanavacca with injury to be replaced by Ramiro Pez and the opening try came when a promising Italian attack broke down, Raphael Ibanez booted downfield and Christope Dominici was on hand to score under the posts. Skrela added the points and France were 10 clear.

France extended their lead in the 30th minute when an initial Sebastien Chabal ended when Skrela popped a delightful pass to Cedric Heymans who ran in unopposed.

Italy still had chances and Fabio Ongaro might have capitalised on good work by his skipper Sergio Parisse had he chosen not to ignore those outside him when the Italians had a clear overlap. However this particular period of pressure led to their opening score, Pez knocking over a penalty but the half ended with another France try, this time Chabal getting the touchdown beside the posts and Skrela somehow managing to hit the upright with the conversion (3-22 ).

From the restart the Italians were put immediately on the back foot and their line remained intact only until the 44th minute when Chabal crossed for his second try. This time Skrela added the points (3-29).

After this score Italy replaced their entire front row but not to any great eff3ect. It needed a try saving tackle by Andrea Masi on Skrela to prevent France going further ahead after the French 10 had hacked ahead another dropped Italian pass and gathered only to be stopped short of the line.

Skrela orchestrated France's fifth try with a lovely crossfield kick in the 63rd minute. That kick was tapped back by Heymans to the supporting Clement Poitrenaud and the full back off loaded to his Toulouse colleague Yannick Jauzion to run in the score.

Replacement Lionel Beauxis lashed over a 45 metre 72nd minute penalty (3-39) and a measure of the Italians difficulty was reflected in the closing stages when after 18 phases of play they never managed to make any real headway.

Italy: R de Marigny; D Dallan, G Canale (K Robertson 78 mins), Mirco Brgamasco, A Masi; A Scanavacca (R Pez 12 min), P Griffen (A Troncon 70 mins); S Perugini (C Festuccia 45 min), F Ongara (A lo Cicero 45 min), C Nieto (M Castrogiovanni 45 min) ; S Delappe (R Mandelli 68mins), M Bortolomi capt; J Sole, Mauro Bergamasco, S Parisse.

France: C Poitrenaud; C Heymans, F Fritz (L Beauxis 67 min), Y Jauzion, C Dominici; D Skrela, P Mignoni; O Milloud, R Ibanez capt (D Szarzewski 57 min) , P de Villiers (S Marconnet 57 min) ; L Naillet, J Thion; S Betsen, J Bonnaire (I Harinordoquy 65 min), S Chabal (P Pape 71 mins).

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