France 37-10 Italy
The pre-tournament favorites bounce back from a slow start in the rain in Paris to top the starting table.
Ireland are in town next weekend for what already looks to be an absolutely pivotal showdown in the title race.
TRY! France 37-10 Italy | Gabin Villere 82′
82 minutes: He has his hat-trick!
He will not be denied the wing from Toulon, benefiting from some clever play and passing from Penaud and Moefana, with acres of space to land on the left flank.
That is France’s first hat-trick in the Six Nations since Vincent Clerc in 2008.
The game ends with a cracking conversion of Ntamack.
80 minutes: France is pressing for a last-gasp fifth try, kicking a penalty into the corner and Villiere on the prowl in an attempt to seal his hat-trick.
Les Bleus appear to be on the right side, but their attack is marred by a loose pass from Fickou.
But it’s not over yet…
77 minutes: Here comes France with what could be a final attack to try to add more shine to this score…
71 minutes: Italy are trying to finish with a flourish here and kick a penalty into the corner, but the French defense is up to the task.
Kicks fly back and forth without much momentum or rhythm in this competition now.
TRY! France 30-10 Italy | Damian Penaud 68′
68 minutes: What a glorious attempt.
Yoram Moefana, who replaced Danty a few minutes ago, with the latter taking a hit, makes the opening break before feeding into Penaud, who combines beautifully with Dupont down the right flank before accelerating.
It hasn’t been as easy as many expected, but that’s the extra point for France.
The conversion sails and is a 20-point lead with just over 10 minutes left in Paris.
66 minutes: The French maul is quite heavy and messy, with Bamba inadvertently blocking Taofifenua and they can’t get the ball out.
Another opportunity is begging, to the delight of Italy.
63 minutes: Boos ring out at the Stade de France as Penaud wonderfully runs and then kicks the ball at Italia 22, only to be checked by debuting substitute Marin.
The loose ball is cut into touch by Brex.
Referee Adamson does not consider foul play, but France have a lineout in excellent position nonetheless.
It still takes one more try to get a bonus point, remember.
60 minutes: So close to another French try, with Ntamack’s clever kick into the path of Penaud that it didn’t sit well with the Clermont star.
He tries to control with his boot, but I think the Italian defender he’s covering only touched that to help bring him down.
59 minutes: I don’t envy this Italian defense one bit.
France’s size and strength are off the charts as they crash into heavy carry after heavy carry to get past the go-ahead line, their last since the towering Taofifenua.
The faster Villiere tries to round the corner and get Dupont’s quick volley, but a cut tackle from Negri lets him go.
It’s a knock on and an Italian ball in the scrum.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.