France survived a major scare against Italy in Rome as they hung on to win 29-24 in a nerve-racking Six Nations triumph on Sunday.
Tries from Thibaud Flament, Thomas Ramos, Ethan Dumortier and Matthieu Jalibert saw Les Bleus seal a bonus-point win, with Ramos also kicking nine points.
Italy came agonisingly close to claiming a memorable victory though, with Ange Capuozzo’s score and a penalty try added to by four penalties from Tommaso Allan.
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The visitors were dealt a second-half scare when Charles Ollivon was sent to the sin bin and Italy were awarded that penalty try, at one point taking a second-half lead through Allan.
But Les Bleus fended off the threat and will look to extend their winning streak to 15 when they travel to Ireland next weekend in round two of the Six Nations.
France were on the scoresheet after four minutes when Italy scrum-half Stephen Varney attempted a box-kick only to be thwarted by the six-foot-eight Flament, who intercepted before going on an unstoppable run over the whitewash, with Ramos adding the extras.
Allan booted in a penalty to narrow the deficit before France had a try ruled out, but Les Bleus soon restored their advantage through Ramos.
Allan added another penalty for the Azzurri before Dumortier collected Romain Ntamack’s cross-field kick and dotted down to open his account for France.
Impressive finish from Capuozzo
Italy responded through Capuozzo, who went on a spritely run and was able to evade Gregory Alldritt before getting the ball down in the left corner, with Allan adding a penalty to make it 19-14 at the halfway point.
Ramos added three more but Ollivon was soon punished for bringing down the maul and the penalty try was awarded after a review. Allan soon made no mistake to slot his fourth penalty through the posts to give his side the lead for the first time in the 61st minute.
Five minutes later, however, France displayed their depth when Jalibert came off the bench and made an instant impact, scoring with his first touch to secure the bonus point.