Match Report

Italy Come Within Inches of First Win in France

Paolo Garbisi with his Italian teammates post-match
Paolo Garbisi struck the post in what could have been a match-winning penalty, as Italy drew 13-13 with France for the first time in Guinness Men's Six Nations history.

Had the kick been converted, Italy would have secured their first ever win in France, but as it was they had to settle for a valuable draw.

France initially took control of the contest with a try from Charles Ollivon, until Jonathan Danty was given a red card after a bunker review for a high tackle in the final play of the first half.

For large swathes of the second half it still looked as though the hosts had enough in the tank to cross the finish line, but Italy had other ideas, drawing level with a finely worked try, finished off by Ange Capuozzo.

A nervy final ten minutes followed and the tension did not let up, as France found themselves in possession with the clock in the red.

They had the chance to kick the ball out and take the draw, but opted to play for the win, a decision which almost backfired when Italy were awarded a penalty within range of the posts.

Up stepped Garbisi, with memories of his match-winning kick in 2022 against Wales still simmering, to take a shot at glory.

But it was not to be. The ball fell from the tee, rushing Garbisi’s motions which resulted in him hitting the post, ending proceedings with a draw.

France Off the Mark Early

France started with a point to prove having fallen below their lofty standards in the two rounds, pinning Italy back deep in their own half.

An initial stabbed kick through from Matthieu Jalibert, intended for Matthis Lebel, did not come off, but soon after the hosts got their breakthrough.

Cameron Woki came close to opening the scoring, attempting to dot down with an outlandish diving effort, but he was stopped short and instead offloaded to Ollivon who touched down next to the post.

Following a quick TMO check for a knock-on, the try was confirmed and easily converted by Thomas Ramos.

The French fullback was then called back into action five minutes later to slot a penalty in front of the posts, extending his side’s advantage.

From there, large swathes of the half were played deep in Italian territory as France attempted to turn the screw and cement control.

Their huge advantage at the scrum, carried by the weight of their front five, ensured Fabien Galthié’s men dominated the territorial game, but inaccuracies in attack prevented them from adding to their tally.

On two separate occasions Peato Mauvaka and Lebel fumbled possession with the try-line beckoning, while Jalibert slightly overhit a cross-field kick intended for Paul Boudehent.

But then heartbreak hit as Jalibert was pulled from the field, joining Romain Ntamack as the latest French fly-half to be sidelined.

The home crowd hushed and got even quieter minutes later when Danty was shown a yellow card for a high hit on Ignacio Brex which was sent up for a bunker review.

Martin Page-Relo landed the resulting penalty from distance, giving France a slender 10-3 lead at the break.

Resurgent Italy A Post Away from Winning

Before any action was played in the second period, referee Christophe Ridley announced that, following a bunker review, Danty’s hit was reckless and without mitigation, meaning the yellow was moved up to a red card.

Having 14 men on the field is never an easy situation to manoeuvre but France managed to combine well in the early stages, pinning Italy back with sustained pressure around the fringes.

They were rewarded for their hard work with another penalty call at the breakdown.

Ramos kicked the points to ease the nerves, though slowly Italy edged their way back into the contest, taking control of possession, soon after earning a penalty of their own.

Paolo Garbisi slotted the ball between the posts on the 60 minute mark, and from then on Italy took control.

The French line, visibly worn out due to being a man down, started leaving gaps in the midfield and it was Player of the Match Tommaso Menoncello who benefitted, crashing through a hole to set up an Italian attack in the French 22.

Off the next phase the ball was distributed wide and landed in the hands of Capuozzo who dove over in the corner to create hopes of a comeback.

Garbisi slotted the conversion, bringing them level with 10 minutes left on the clock, though neither side managed to find an edge until France conceded a penalty for holding on.

It was well within Garbisi's range and so the Italian fly-half stepped up to kick what could have been the match-winning penalty.

However, his flow was disrupted when the ball fell from the tee, forcing him to rush his kick which smacked the right post before Italy hauled Yoram Moefana into touch to end the game..