France buoyed by Italy triumph
France travel to England for their final RBS 6 Nations match next Saturday feeling much better about their game after a convincing win in Italy.
Les Bleus beat the Azzurri 29-0 on Sunday for their first triumph in Rome since 2009 and their second victory in this year's tournament.
The outcome allowed Philippe Saint-Andre's troops to recover from defeats against Ireland and Wales that had shaken their confidence.
"We could not have predicted that we would win 29-0 in Italy," Tolouse full-back Yoann Huget told L'Equipe. "Our forwards did a great job and dominated to allow us to launch a few counter-attacks.
"We also made the most of the mistakes made by Italy.
"We played pragmatically a nd this win does us a lot of good.
"We are still in the race to win the tournament even though it will take a miracle.
"But it is already good to be able to finish the tournament at Twickenham with a chance to win."
Should Ireland and Wales both lose this coming weekend, France could secure the title with a win at Twickenham against England.
France captain Thierry Dusautoir, who earned his 50th cap against Italy and was voted man of the match, said: "It was a great Test.
"With respect to our previous games, we showed more hunger, more quality.
"We had a lot of pressure going into this game after a difficult week. We showed a lot of character that we seemed to have lost in our previous two games.
"Our aim now is to recover well and try to go out for a win in England."
Italy, meanwhile, took a step back from their previous performance which had seen them win 22-19 in Scotland.
The win at Murrayfield was Italy's first Six Nations triumph in almost two years.
Against France, Italy failed to convert two penalties early on and that set the tone for a difficult match.
"We lost the one-on-one battles, but we also suffered in our collective game," Italy's French coach Jacques Brunel told Gazzetta dello Sport. "They dominated in the lineouts, maul and eventually also in the scrum.
"They dominated physically.
"We are disappointed that we weren't able to give continuity to our performance in Scotland.
"All the progress that we had made in Edinburgh, we weren't able to show it against France."
Italy centre Andrea Masi expects his side to react when Wales come to town on Saturday.
"We didn't play at our level against France," he said. "We struggled in every department even though we had gone into the game following a perfect week of training.
"Now we must end this Six Nations with a great performance against Wales."