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Huget heroics give France pre-World Cup boost

Italy captain Sergio Parisse made his 140th international appearance as his side were outclassed.

Yoann Huget (file pic).
Yoann Huget (file pic).
Image: SIPA USA/PA Images

WINGER YOANN Huget starred as France thumped Italy 47-19 in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up Test on Friday.

Huget, 32, scored a try and was a threatening presence as the home side crossed seven times in front of a sparse crowd at the Stade de France.

Azzurri captain Sergio Parisse made his 140th international appearance, behind only former Ireland centre Brian O’Driscoll and ex-New Zealand flanker Richie McCaw on the all-time list.

“What I’ll take from that is when we were down to 13 men, we managed to switch on and let the storm pass, to put ourselves back in the match,” captain Jefferson Poirot told broadcaster TF1.

“We have three weeks to get perfect before a final against Argentina, we won’t go into hiding,” he added.

The hosts raced into an early lead as Huget crossed after less than two minutes for his fourth try in as many Tests.

The Toulouse finisher was on the end of a simple backline move sparked by Wesley Fofana’s attacking line off the shoulder of Romain Ntamack.

France were reduced to 14 men when No 8 Louis Picamoles was shown a yellow card by referee Matthew Carley for playing the ball on the ground.

Italy took the lead three minutes later. Parisse played a tap penalty quickly and off-loaded for winger Mattia Bellini to score unopposed as the Stade de France began to whistle.

Tommaso Allan, on his 50th Test appearance, converted for a 7-5 lead.

The home side were down to 13 almost immediately after the restart as Rabah Slimani was punished after conceding the 10th French penalty of the opening 23 minutes.

- Bellini the villain -

Bellini was the villain two minutes later, shown a yellow card for pulling back Huget as the Toulouse winger chased his own kick. 

Carley also awarded a penalty try and Les Bleus led 12-7.

Hooker Camille Chat, starting instead of regular captain Guilhem Guirado, extended the hosts’ advantage when he scored following a rolling maul. 

Ntamack slotted the extras for a 19-7 on the half hour mark.

Huget was involved in both his side’s next two tries.

The winger was high-tackled and the penalty led to a rolling maul from which Antoine Dupont scored after 44 minutes.

Huget then broke down the left. French forwards recycled before finding lock Arthur Iturria free on the right.

Ntamack slotted both conversions for a 33-7 lead with 33 minutes to play.

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The Azzurri closed the gap to 33-14 as flanker Jake Polledri caught his own chip kick to charge over.

Wenceslas Lauret crossed with the help of lock Romain Taofifenua for France’s sixth try.

Bellini replied with less than 15 minutes remaining and the visitors trailed 40-19.

The victory was assured when substitute Thomas Ramos crossed with five minutes remaining.

France head coach Jacques Brunel names his final World Cup squad on Monday. Les Bleus face Argentina, the US, Tonga and England in Japan.

Italy have one last pre-tournament Test against England next Friday. They play reigning champions New Zealand, South Africa, Namibia and Canada in the World Cup pool stage.

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