Thomas Waldrom – I feel whoever gets the most quick ball will be the team that comes out on top
The first game to kick off the 6 nations is France v Italy. Both teams will want to start off with a good win. It’s Guy Noves first game in charge of the new look French team. He’s left a few big names out of his first squad, but they will be favourites and playing at home will give them a little advantage. I would like to see the French flair come out in their attacking game, moving the ball around to find space. Like the French we know of old. One thing Italy have on their side is their captain Serigo Parisse who plays rugby in France and will get his team well prepared for what is going to come. Both teams will want to get good set piece ball to attack from. I feel whoever gets the best ball will be the team that comes out on top.
Italy started off the best, they attacked straight away showing if you take the game to the French there will be opportunities to take advantage of. Italy had a great chance to score the first try with a great box kick from Edoardo Gori and Leonardo Sarto got very close, testing the new French winger Virimi Vakatawa on debut to collect the high ball. Good play from Italy who got first points on board with a drop goal by Carlo Canna on 8 mins to lead 3-0.
France showed they wanted to play a high tempo game. They were getting behind the Italian team when they had the ball. Italy kept the French in the game with some silly penalties. Luckily for Italy Sebastien Bezy didn’t pack his kicking boots .
There was good build up from the French who showed us that attacking game we know France can play allowing Virimi Vakatawa the get his first try for France. Shortly after this Picamoles went off injured which will be a huge concern for Noves.
Italy applied pressure on France throughout the first half and Parisse manage to convert this into 5 points, what a talisman he is.
The up tempo game was working for France and it showed when Gael Fickou took a quick tap. seeing an opening where Italy had numbers down on the blind side. France took advantage of it with quick hands for Damien Chouly to score in the corner making it 10-8 with kick to come but Sebastien Bezy pushed it wide.
Sebastien Bezy got none from 3 but France went into Half time 10 – 8 up.
The turning point of the game came on the 75th min when Italy’s captain got penalised for not releasing the ball which I thought was very harsh. Up steps Jules Plisson and kicks a monster to put France 23-21 with 5 minutes to play. I am sure he will be kicking from the start of the game next week.
Italy try hard for a scrum penalty but doesn’t come for them. They keep the ball, work it towards the French line and that man Sergio Parisse steps up for a drop goal but misses it and it’s end of the game. It was a good opener but definitely no a classic. France played some good rugby and Italy showed they are going to be hard to beat again, this 6 Nations has definitely got some twists and turns left in it.
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