Mixed emotions from Galthié as France rise to top

France head coach Fabien Galthié was left with mixed feelings after a lung-busting eight-try thriller against Italy in Paris.

France head coach Fabien Galthié was left with mixed feelings after a lung-busting eight-try thriller against Italy in Paris.

The win at the Stade de France sent Les Bleus top of the 2020 Guinness Six Nations after two rounds and although there were second-half wobbles, a second dominant win in as many weeks has some French supporters talking of titles.

First-half tries for Teddy Thomas, Charles Ollivon and Grégory Alldritt outdid Matteo Minozzi’s for Italy, while Romain Ntamack and Baptiste Serin both got over in the second half to match scores for Federico Zani and Mattia Bellini.

“It was difficult,” said Galthié after the match. “The first half was nearly perfect, we made two little errors of game management on our kicking game and playing territory. The second half was not as substantial – the team was pushed about by the Italians.

“The team tried quite a lot of things and we found ourselves in position to score a few times. The team played those well, we scored five tries and some well-constructed tries but in the second half we wasted some chances.

“It’s hard to summarise where we are after two matches, even if we have passed the first two stages.

“Our objective is to win matches and we are 100 per cent satisfied in terms of the performance and the final score. But we also have things to study and to work on to fulfil our potential.”

That “near-perfect” first half threatened to kill off Italy’s challenge before the game reached the latter stages.

Thomas, Ollivon and an Ntamack penalty had made it 13-0 after 18 minutes with the young fly-half and his fellow tormentor Antoine Dupont pulling out all the tricks.

It was 23-10 at half-time but Italy dominated large portions of the second half, at one stage three home lineouts going awry when the game could have been killed off.

But it’s the class and style of this spritely Les Bleus side that has whispers of a first title since 2010 growing – Ntamack and Baptiste Serin’s second-half scores both absolute beauties – although Galthié also hailed his opposition.

“Italy is a team that has some great players and you have to take them seriously. They scored three tries against us today,” he added.

Those thoughts were echoed by team manager Raphael Ibanez, who was also positive on France’s two showings so far: “You have to hail the Italian performance, especially in the second half, we saw a team that played with energy after their first match.

“We are all about sincerity and truth, we will build and make progress from here.

“It’s a great start to the Championship, two wins and nine points and first place in the standings – that gives us confidence to advance.”