French find their flair at last to see off gritty Italians
France 34 Italy 17
France secured their first victory of the 2018 NatWest Six Nations campaign, beating Italy 34-17 in Marseille.
Paul Gabrillagues, Hugo Bonneval and Mathieu Bastareaud scored the hosts' three tries as they won for the first time in nine matches.
A first-half penalty try and a late score from Matteo Minozzi put Italy on the board but they rarely looked like mounting a serious challenge as the hosts dominated throughout.
France settled early nerves in the Stade Velodrome when Gabrillagues scored his first international try in the sixth minute.
Italy were given a penalty three minutes later and, after opting to kick for touch, they drove over the line and referee Wayne Barnes gave the visitors a penalty try for a collapsed maul.
A Maxime Machenaud penalty handed France an 8-7 lead in the 29th minute, and he made it 11-7 with another before half-time.
France started the second half brightly and after Beauxis missed a drop goal, Machenaud scored yet another penalty to put France 14-7 in front.
Italy reduced the deficit in the 50th minute when Tommaso Allan slotted over a straightforward penalty after Sergio Parisse had been tackled off the ball.
The visitors went on the attack, with Sebastian Negri bursting towards France's 22, but they conceded a penalty and the hosts were then able to come forward.
A well-worked try gave France breathing space in the 60th minute as Bonneval went over after good work by Bastareaud and Grosso in the build-up.
After converting the try, Racing 92's Machenaud then kicked two further penalties to put France 27-10 ahead.
Bastareaud powered over with a French try in the 73rd minute, and Francois Trinh-Duc converted to send France 34-10 in front.
Italy hit back with a late try through Matteo Minozzi in the 79th minute, with Carlo Canna adding the extras.