Italy stalemate flat France – Sport Fortunes

Italy stalemate flat France - Sport Fortunes


Paolo Garbisi converted a late Ange Capuozzo try as Italy clawed back from a seven-point first-half deficit to draw with 14-man France in Sunday’s Six Nations clash in Lille.

Garbisi failed with a last-gasp penalty as the Azzurri drew 13-13 with Les Bleus at Stade Pierre Mauroy, adding more pressure on France head coach Fabien Galthie and his charges.

Jonathan Danty was shown a red card for the French before Garbisi hit the post with an 82nd minute shot at goal in Lille.

Italy were trailing 13-6 with just 10 minutes left when Capuozzo went over for a try. Garbisi was then handed the chance to claim Italy’s first win over France in more than a decade, and a first in the Six Nations on French soil.

However, his tough-looking effort came back off the upright and the Italians had to settle for a share of the spoils against a relieved France.

The result means France’s hangover from a failed home Rugby World Cup continues before a trip to Wales in a fortnight’s time with their Six Nations title hopes over.

The French had been forced to a late change with winger Matthis Lebel replacing Louis Bielle-Biarrey 24 hours before kick-off after he suffered a neck injury.

Galthie handed 145kg 19-year-old lock Posolo Tuilagi his first Test start and kept faith with his under-fire half-backs Maxime Lucu and Matthieu Jalibert and out-of-form centres Gael Fickou and Danty.

Italy’s former Les Bleus attack coach Gonzalo Quesada made six changes from February 11’s 36-0 hammering at tournament favourites Ireland and named five players among his backs based in the French Top 14.

Lebel’s first responsibility in Test rugby since November 2022 was to clean up a sloppy Jalibert pass after just 36 seconds.

The hosts controlled territory early on and were rewarded with the game’s opening try after seven minutes for flanker Charles Ollivon, standing in as captain for the injured Gregory Alldritt.

Ollivon’s 16th Test try sent the 50,000-capacity crowd into a frenzy. Les Bleus were on the front foot and full-back Thomas Ramos added to his earlier conversion with a penalty to make it 10-0 after Tuilaigi’s soft hands, unusual for such a big man, put Jalibert into space.

Italy’s first incursion into the opposition 22m came at the end of an open first quarter of an hour but Fickou and Danty combined for a turnover and Jalibert cleared French lines.

Galthie’s side continued to dominate the game and territory until just before the break but the Italy defence, with impressive tackles from winger Tommaso Menoncello and Vintcent on Jalibert and Danty, forcing the France flyhalf off, kept them at bay.

With two minutes played over the clock Danty attempted some revenge with a hit on centre Juan Ignacio Brex but his tackle was deemed high and was shown a yellow card, pending a decision from the television match official.

Italy’s scrumhalf Martin Page-Relo then cut the deficit to 10-3 with a long-range penalty.

Moments before Italy kicked off the second half Danty’s yellow card was upgraded to a red leaving France’s backline impacted even further after Jalibert’s substitution, with Yoram Moefana coming on.

Danty’s absence failed to dampen France’s control and Ramos, filling in for Jalibert at flyhalf, restored the 10-point lead after 42 minutes with Alldritt carrying on the tee for the Toulouse playmaker.

The game turned sloppy before 23-year-old Garbisi kicked a penalty to bring his side within a converted try of the hosts with 20 minutes to play.

Ollivon was replaced with a quarter of an hour left with hooker Julien Marchand taking over the captain’s armband before Capuozzo quietened the Lille crowd with a finish in the corner from a subtle Leonardo Marin assist.

The tough conversion was slotted by Garbisi with less than 10 minutes to go to take the score level 13-all and set up the dramatic finale.

© Agence France-Presse

Photo: EPA/Teresa Suarez


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