|Six Nations 2017 – Italy v France|
|Italy (11) 18|
|Tries: Parisse, Esposito Cons: Canna Pens: Canna (2)|
|France (16) 40|
|Tries: Fickou, Vakatawa, Picamoles, Dulin Cons: Lopez (4) Pens: Lopez (4)|
France ended their dismal Six Nations away form with a bonus-point win against Italy in Rome.
Italy skipper Sergio Parisse scored the quickest try of the 2017 tournament, but Gael Fickou’s score helped the visitors lead 16-11 at the break.
Victor Vakatawa, Louis Picamoles and Brice Dulin also crossed, with Camille Lopez kicking 20 points, as France avoided a sixth straight away defeat.
But their slim title chances were ended by England’s win over Scotland.
France, who host Wales in Paris next Saturday, must now concentrate on finishing in the top three for the first time since 2011.
Italy produced encouraging displays in gallant defeats against England and Wales, holding half-time leads in both matches before fading away in the second half.
Again, the Azzurri ran out of steam.
They have ‘lost’ the second halves of their four matches this year by a combined 115-12, compared to a 57-38 first-half deficit.
Conor O’Shea’s side made the perfect start when the talismanic Parisse powered over from close range after three minutes, but they were unable to replicate the defensive resilience shown against the English and Welsh.
The Italians had 53 missed tackles, culminating in a tackle percentage of just 66%, and it was exploited by the French attack.
Les Bleus took the lead midway through the first half when Fickou dummied his way through the Italian defence to score and, although Carlos Canna’s penalty reduced the gap to 13-11 shortly after.
Italy crumbled after the break as they headed towards an 11th successive Six Nations defeat, although Angelo Esposito’s try in the last play of the game avoided a scoreless second half for the hosts.
However, it was little consolation for a side consigned to the wooden spoon for the third time in four years.
Italy: Padovani; Esposito, Campagnaro, McLean, Venditti; Canna, Gori; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Cittadini, Fuser, Van Schalkwyk, Steyn, Favaro,, Parisse (capt).
Replacements: D’Apice (for Ghiraldini 63), Panico (for Lovotti 64), Chistolini (for Cittadini 40), Biagi (for Fuser 50), Mbanda (for Favaro 51), Bronzini (for Gori 51), Benvenuti (for Campagnaro 65), Sperandio.
France: Dulin; Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa; Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Le Devedec, Maestri, Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.
Replacements: Tolofua (for Guirado 54), Atonio (for Baille 54), Ben Arous (for Slimani 54), Jedrasiak (for Le Devedec 54), Le Roux (for Picamoles 72), Dupont (for Serin 72), Trinh-Duc (for Lamerat 69), Huget (for Vakatawa 63).
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) and JP Doyle (England)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)