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France player ratings vs Italy | 2022 Six Nations

By Paul Smith
Gabin Villiere scored a hat-trick for France against Italy (Getty)

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Six Nations favourites France launched their 2022 campaign with a comfortable 37-10 home win over perennial strugglers Italy.

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In pouring rain at the Stade de France the hosts led 18-10 at the interval claiming tries through Anthony Jelonch and Gabin Villiere to which Italy responded through winger Tommaso Menoncello.

France extended their lead through Villiere’s second touchdown and their dominant second half display was then rewarded by Damian Penaud’s bonus point score before Villiere completed a last-minute hat-trick.

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Head coach Fabien Galthie, who missed the match after testing positive for COVID-19, will now turn his attention to next weekend’s visit from Ireland in what could be the competition’s pivotal contest.

France made two changes to the starting XV that beat the All Blacks, both in the pack. Hooker Peato Mauvaka, who scored five tries in three Tests during the autumn, was replaced by Julien Marchand, while Dylan Cretin was preferred to Francois Cros in the back row.

Italy handed debuts to no.8 Toa Halafihi and winger Menoncello in another inexperienced side in which eight of their starting XV had 10 caps or fewer. Head coach Kieran Crowley selected 18 players in the matchday squad from his former club Benetton.

France have now claimed nine consecutive Six Nations wins over Italy since losing to the Azzurri 23-18 in the opening round of 2013 while Italy’s 33-match losing run is the longest in Five or Six Nations history.

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15 MELVYN JAMINET – 7.5
Claimed a spectacular high ball in the opening minutes of his Six Nations debut then thumped over an early penalty with plenty of confidence.

However, he failed to claim a ball under his own posts to give Italy the position from which Menoncello claimed their opening try late in the first quarter.

Counter-attacked strongly and linked well with his back three colleagues.

14 DAMIAN PENAUD – 7.5
Narrowly denied a try on the hour mark when unable to regather Ntmack’s inch-perfect diagonal chip. Then produced an arcing break combined with a neat sidestep that took France from inside their own half to within metres of the Italian line.

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However, his party piece came late on as he twice swapped passes with his captain before skating to the corner for France’s bonus point try.

13 GAEL FICKOU – 6.5
Hit some hard lines through midfield and handled neatly in tough conditions.

Claimed a high ball then side-stepped neatly past the cover early in the second half only for his support to go off its feet.

12 JONATHAN DANTY – 6.5
Made his presence felt in an early breakdown where France won a turnover.

Burst through the visitors’ defence early in the second quarter to establish the position from which Julien Marchand had a try disallowed.

11 GABIN VILLIERE – 8.5
Showed great technique to claim a high ball under huge pressure in the early stages but then blotted his copybook with an off-the-ball shove which saw a penalty reversed via TMO intervention.

Got his name on the scoresheet shortly before half-time after France’s backs defied the conditions to display some slick handling then followed up with a superb piece of trickery including a kick fake prior to claiming his second score.

The pacy winger completed a hat-trick in the closing seconds with a simple finish.

10 ROMAIN NTMACK – 8
Almost put the hosts into the corner with a perfectly-weighted diagonal chip from France’s first scrum feed.
Created France’s second score with a beautifully weighted pass and gave us a further reminder of his extraordinary vision when threading a chip into the path of Damian Penaud.

9 ANTOINE DUPONT – 6.5
Not one of the stellar displays with which he has become regularly associated and at times over-cooked his box kicks.

Nonetheless, France’s skipper did the basics reliably and always kept Italy’s defence honest around the fringes before combining well with Penaud in their bonus point score.

1 CYRIL BAILLE – 7
Delivered Italy an ominous warning about his set-piece power by demolishing his opposite number in two of the first three scrums.

2 JULIEN MARCHAND – 7
Denied a try by the TMO but prominent around the field and characteristically solid in both scrum and lineout.

3 UINI ATONIO – 7
At the heart of a scrummaging effort which had Italy under pressure from the off although was responsible for the concession of a penalty on France’s own put-in when his feet slipped from under him. Also put in a couple of huge hits around the fringes.

4 CAMERON WOKI – 9
Disrupted the Italian lineout from which France claimed their opening try and claimed plenty of good lineout ball in a display which Nick Mullins described as “dominating the airways above the Stade de France.”

Showed some neat skills with ball in hand on more than one occasion when rampaging in midfield and forced a key turnover with a thumping hit.

5 PAUL WILLEMSE – 6.5
Carried hard and often and played an important role in his team’s solid set-piece effort.

6 ANTHONY JELONCH – 8
Frustratingly lost the slippery ball forward as France’s forwards sought to drive a lineout from close range but soon made amends by stealing possession to claim his country’s opening try.

Did plenty of hard yards for his team and showed an unquenchable appetite for work.

7 DYLAN CRETIN – 6.5
A typically all-action display in the French back row combined with some useful lineout work which kept the visitors’ set-piece guessing.

8 GREGORY ALLDRITT – 8
Another French forward who will look back with satisfaction on some stellar numbers in both attack and defence. Created France’s third try with a good support line and a sublime offload.

REPLACEMENTS – 7
France have plenty of depth and their bench made a useful contribution to their strong fourth quarter.

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