Rugby: France crush woeful Italians

5th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

ROME, Feb 3, 2007 (AFP) - Sebastien Chabal put in a powerhouse display to score two tries - his first for his country in 25 tests - as defending Six Nations champions France humiliated Italy 39-3 here on Saturday.

ROME, Feb 3, 2007 (AFP) - Sebastien Chabal put in a powerhouse display to score two tries - his first for his country in 25 tests - as defending Six Nations champions France humiliated Italy 39-3 here on Saturday.

The Sale backrow forward ran in two of the five tries in a one-sided match which saw veteran Christophe Dominici, Cedric Heymans and Yannick Jauzion also score tries.

Chabal, who has been in and out of the side since the last World Cup playing just five times, said he was delighted with his performance.

"To score two tries is great for me and in a winning side even better," said the 29-year-old.

"I have to admit I felt tired after an hour but that was because we as a pack had been going forward throughout the match and that created the space for our backs to get the ball and pass it around."

France coach Bernard Laporte, who has been criticised in many circles for selecting an initial 40-man squad, believed he had been vindicated in what was France's best ever start start to a Six Nations under his regime since the 36-3 walloping of Wales in 2000.

"It is mission accomplished," said the 42-year-old former scrum-half.

"It's our best start to a tournament for eight years and we played with joy."

France skipper Raphael Ibanez admitted the champions had been tense at the start.

"There were some nerves but we have started the competition well," said the hooker. "It showed that there is a good spirit in the team."

Italy coach Pierre Berbizier, a former French skipper, promised his team will learn from their mistakes.

"We were taught a good lesson," said Berbizier. "There wasn't a good balance between the forwards and the backs and the French were able to match us on our strong points like in the scrum."  

Italy dominated the opening stages and came close to scoring a try in the fourth minute and missed two penalties - Roland de Marigny the worst offender as he missed one in front of the posts.

France were nowhere near as wasteful as David Skrela put one over the posts to give the visitors the lead as the French rebounded from the early onslaught.

The Italians kept on pressing but were undone when they were deep in French territory as a dropped pass led to Raphael Ibanez kicking it on and Dominici picking it up on the bounce and running it in to touch down for his 22nd international career try and first against Italy.

Skrela converted to make it 10-0.

Skrela set up Heymans for the second try with a delicate pass releasing the criminally unmarked winger - Skrela converted to make it a slightly unrealistic 17-0 margin.

Ramiro Pez reduced the deficit slightly with a penalty five minutes from the break after some good sustained Italian pressure.  

The French, though, turned on the heat in the dying minutes of the half but spurned a couple of chances with Jauzion having a scoring opportunity but the ball was wrested from his grasp while Pez halted bravely a certain try for Heymans.

However, there was a certain inevitability when France did get their try through the swashbuckling backrow forward Chabal on the stroke of half-time - the only blot being Skrela's missed conversion which provoked a strangled cry of irritation from the son of the former France coach and captain.

Chabal ran in a second shortly after the restart which Skrela converted much to his relief.

Chabal was to see his rampaging performance halted with 10 minutes remaining as he left the pitch with what appeared to be a thigh injury but by that stage France had extended their overwhelming lead through a Jauzion try which Skrela also converted.

Skrela's number two at Stade Francais Lionel Beauxis made an immediate impact as he knocked over a penalty to make it 39-3.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news, Rugby, Six nations

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