France too strong for Italy
France started their RBS 6 Nations campaign with an impressive 30-12 defeat of Italy in Paris.
Tries from Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Malzieu, Vincent Clerc and Wesley Fofana enabled the beaten World Cup finalists to extend their winning run at the Stade de France to nine matches.
It means the tournament favourites remain unbeaten in home matches on the opening day of a championship since 1975, although they did not have things all their own way early on.
After plenty of early Italy possession, Dimitri Yachvili settled home nerves with a 12th-minute penalty. However, the visitors levelled the scores with a Kristopher Burton drop-goal five minutes later, after the same player had failed with an earlier sighter.
The first try of this season's Six Nations competition came in the 21st minute when Rougerie took advantage of gaps in the Italy defence to score his 23rd try for his country. Yachvili added the extras with a routine conversion and the visitors led 10-3.
Poor handling let Burton down when he had the opportunity to cross, before the same player reduced the deficit to four points in the 30th minute with a penalty, after Pascal Pape failed to roll away after a tackle.
The highlight of the first half came in the 35th minute when Louis Picamoles picked up at a scrum and found Malzieu on the outside - and the Clermont Auvergne wing held off several challenges in a powering run before crossing the line.
Burton added another three-pointer in the 47th minute after Rougerie had been penalised, before Yachvili landed a penalty in the 52nd minute - and less than two minutes later Francois Trinh-Duc and Rougerie combined to help Clerc cross the line, with Yachvili kicking a straightforward conversion.
Italy's Tobias Botes kicked a testing penalty within five minutes of the debutant's introduction for Burton.
A glut of substitutions on both sides disrupted the flow of play in the second second half. However, Fofana put the gloss on the win in the 72nd minute when he held off Luke McLean to mark his debut with a try.