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Huge Jules Plisson penalty hands France win against Parisse's Italy

The Italians were narrowly beaten in an entertaining game at Stade de France.

France 23

Italy 21

A LONG-RANGE penalty from out-half Jules Plisson handed France a 23-21 victory over Italy on the opening day of the Six Nations.

Jules Plisson kicks a penalty to give his team the lead Plisson fired over the winning penalty. Source: Billy Stickland/INPHO

The Italians manufactured a drop goal opportunity with the last action of the game as they attempted to clinch an away win in Paris, but the inspirational Sergio Parisse saw his scuffed effort fly wide.

The Italian captain was magnificent once again in a determined Italian effort, but France’s attacking incision was just about enough in the overall context of the contest as they scored three tries through brilliant debutant Virimi Vakatawa, Damien Chouly and Hugo Bonneval.

Italy will have some complaints over the final penalty awarded by referee JP Doyle to allow Plisson to kick his winning penalty, as Parisse appeared to have been tackled high.

Fiji-born wing Vakatawa, a star on the sevens circuit for France in recent seasons, was highly impressive on his return to the 15s game as his powerful running and ability to get the hands free in the tackle shone.

Toulouse scrum-half Sébastien Bezy was sharp on his first cap, aside from woes off the kicking tee as he missed three shots at goal in the first half, while out-half Plisson performed well and stepped up admirably in the place-kicking department to guide France to success.

Otherwise, the French did not offer a huge amount to worry Ireland ahead of their trip to Paris next Saturday. Their defensive shape and work rate was extremely poor for Test rugby, as the Italians caused them real difficulty, while the French defensive maul struggled too.

Sergio Parisse, Gonzalo Garcia and Francesco Minto tackle Damien Chouly Parisse led the Italian fight as always. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

It is highly likely that increased familiarity will bring improvement from Guy Novès’ side, but their performance was far too loose.

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The Italians scored two tries through Parisse at the back of a powerful first-half maul and out-half Carlo Canna after a sweeping passage of attack early in the second. 23-year-old Canna had a shaky start with his kicking game, but showed attacking quality and eventually found his range off the tee.

He was replaced late on by Kelly Haimona, who kicked a penalty but failed to assert himself when Italy built territory for the last-gasp drop goal effort.

Instead, Parisse took the responsibility on himself yet again and fired wide.

France scorers:

Tries: Virimi Vakatawa, Damien Chouly, Hugo Bonneval

Conversions: Jules Plisson [1]

Penalties: Jules Plisson [2]

Italy scorers:

Tries: Sergio Parisse, Carlo Canna

Conversions: Carlo Canna [1]

Penalties: Carlo Canna [1], Kelly Haimona [1]

Drop goals: Carlo Canna [1]

FRANCE: Maxime Medard; Hugo Bonneval, Gaël Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Virimi Vakatawa; Jules Plisson, Sébastian Bezy; Eddy Ben Arous, Guilhem Guirado (capt.), Rabah Slimani; Paul Jedrasiak, Yoann Maestri; Wenceslas Lauret, Damien Chouly, Louis Picamoles.

Replacements: Camille Chat, Uini Atonio, Jefferson Poirot, Alexandre Flanquart, Yacouba Camara, Maxime Machenaud, Jean-Marc Doussain, Maxime Mermoz.

ITALY: David Odiete; Leonardo Sarto, Michele Campagnaro, Gonzalo Garcia, Mattia Bellini; Carlo Canna, Edoardo Gori; Andrea Lovotti, Ornel Gega, Lorenzo Cittadini; George Fabio Biagi, Marco Fuser; Francesco Minto, Alessandro Zanni, Sergio Parisse (capt.).

Replacements: Davide Giazzon, Matteo Zanusso, Martin Castrogiovanni, Valerio Bernabo, Andries van Schalkwyk, Guglielmo Palazzani, Kelly Haimona, Luke McLean.

Referee: JP Doyle.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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