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French find their flair at last to see off gritty Italians

France 34 Italy 17

By Guy Aspin

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.

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