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'We know Ireland is the big cheese'

By PA
Antoine Dupont of France during the Guinness Six Nations match between France and Italy at Stade de France (Photo by Lionel Hahn/Getty Images)

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Antoine Dupont warned France they must improve quickly before next weekend’s Guinness Six Nations clash against Ireland after needing to overcome a sloppy start to beat Italy 37-10 in Paris on Sunday.

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Gabin Villiere’s hat-trick ultimately powered Les Bleus to a bonus-point victory in wet conditions at the Stade de France, but Italy struck first through debutant Tommaso Menoncello as they benefitted from the hosts’ early ill-discipline.

The final score perhaps flattered the French, and Dupont admitted a repeat performance would not be good enough when Ireland, who opened with a 29-7 rout of Wales on Saturday, head to Paris next weekend.

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“The supporters will have seen that we made a lot of errors this evening and a lot of poor decisions in difficult conditions,” Dupont said. “At least we can be satisfied with the result…

“We were imprecise in all parts of the pitch, we gave them things, penalties, forward passes. We have to correct those and be more serious and rigorous. The chances will then follow.

“We know Ireland is a big cheese, surely the favourites for the championship. They showed how good they are yesterday, we know what awaits us.”

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Villiere got his first try late in the first half, then helped France make sure of victory in a more assured second-half showing.

“You have to be at your best on the first day, and there you go we were, it gives me great pleasure and does me good, especially in front of this crowd,” the Toulon winger said.

“This endorses two weeks of hard work and the score reflects that, the bonus point in the bag. Therefore we will not spit on the performance.”

Italy’s performance was better than the final score suggested, and captain Michele Lamaro said there was plenty to build on ahead of next week’s match against England.

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“They’ve created a lot, yet we were pretty good in defence, we were pretty good physically but we have to get consistency in the whole game,” he said on the Six Nations website.

“The forwards did a pretty good performance, especially on the physical side. We faced them with all we had and that’s all I can ask of the boys.

“I’m happy for that but there’s still lots of things to work on.”

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