Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Italy packed with Argentina players in historical victory vs France

Italy completed an historical 22-21 victory over France at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome on Saturday. It was the first time since Italy entered the Six Nations tournament in 2000 that Italy has defeated France and the first time ever that Italy have defeated a full strength French side. Previously Italy defeated France in Grenoble in 1997 and in Treviso in 1993 but on both occassions, France fielded teams lacking first choice players. The battle of Rome on Saturday, however, was France at full strength. Italy won the match thanks to vastly improved defence and a second half come back after France led 18-6 in the 50th minute.

French coach Marc Lievremont blamed his players and the players blamed themselves. Truth be told, France did not play to the best of its ability but it was Italy who have show cased that they have indeed emerged as a team of the future. France scored two tries and Italy one. France messed up a certain try as centre Aurerien Rougerie knocked on over the goal line. It was, however a rare French break and not the norm as Italy gave France a true contest at the breakdown and matched France in the backs with the Argentina born Italian international centre pairing of Gonzalo Garcia and Gonzalo Canale outplaying their fancied French opponents. Veteran Yannick Jauzion was made to look poor and has since been dropped from the French squad alltogether. Rougerie has gone too. Their sackings are more to do with the Italian centres taking it to them - something that has not occured until now.

Italy had an Argentine 10-12-13 combination with Argentina born flyhalf Luciano Orquera forming a solid combination with Garcia and Canale. Orquera put in an impressive performance including a secondhalf line break which he fed to fullback Andrea Masi going clear until the French 22. Orquera also showed improved defence as he put in a good tackle on Jauzion shortly before François Trinh-Duc set up France´s second try. Orquera was replaced in the second half and went to the sidelines to join Argentina born scrumhalf Pablo Canavosio who was an unused replacement for this fixture.

France´s scrum was given a lesson with French veteran Sylvain Marconnet being outplayed by Argentina born tighthead prop Martín Castrogiovanni. Marconnet failed to bind correctly in more than one occasion and was penalized. During a 5 metre scrum on the Italian try line in the first half, Marconnet was driven backforwards by Castrogiovanni who took the pressure off and prevented a huge try scoring chance for France from taking place. Argentina born Italian captain, Sergio Parisse was the star yet again as he competed endlessly for the ball and succeded in winning turnovers. Castrogiovanni and Parisse were joined by a third Argentina born player in the pack with Santiago Dellape starting in the secondrow. Dellape played 52 minutes before being replaced.

All players are all but certain to play in Rugby World Cup 2011 for Italy and all have been retained for Italy´s final Six Nations match vs Scotland in Edinburgh on Saturday.

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