Pulsive for 50 minutes, the Blues beat the Transalpines (36-5) on Saturday at the Stade de France. We will have to show something else next Sunday against England.
At the Stade de France
The liners have fulfilled their mission. Get rid of Italy at the Stade de France (36-5) to afford the right to play in the final of this unprecedented Fall Nations Cup, next Sunday, against England. Long sluggish, the French substitutes – some of whom were not even in the list of 31 in October – ended up overcoming long painful Transalpines, but who gave in at the end of the match. But it was complicated for this experimental XV of France which had eleven novices at the international level (including five holders), with a pack accumulating only 13 selections. Things finally settled down after 50 minutes of play, after a yellow card from the Italians and the entry of a much sharper first line.
Unruly and uninspired
Applied, these new look Blues were nevertheless good in their match, solid in defense and fair in touch, they had possession of the ball, but could not make the difference. Jalibert quickly passed a first penalty (3rd), after an opponent’s fault in defense. But the Blues were also showing indiscipline, on their forays into the Italian 22m. Content to play kicking, they did not succeed in packing the game, it was not until the 18th minute to see a first breakthrough, by Cameron Woki. Unfortunately, after a game reversal, it didn’t work because of a forward from Jean-Pascal Barraque …
The game then fell into a false rhythm, the Italians – present in defense – did not offer much and the French, over the minutes, accumulated approximations or small hand errors, like this forward Sekou Macalou yet well launched in the line (22nd). La Nazionale woke up and, on its first strong point, managed to tear the blue curtain, Canna flattening out in the middle of a listless defense (3-5, 26 ‘). In melee, the left pillar of Stade Toulousain Rodrigue Neti was in arrears (two penalties, one free kick conceded). Jostled, Fabien Galthié’s players nevertheless managed to stop a new Italian offensive, thanks to a decisive scratch from Anthony Jelonch in his 22 m (32nd).
And, in the wake, the Blues finally came out of their torpor, scoring in force by Jonathan Danty after a scrum at 5 m obtained following a kick to be followed by Brice Dulin (10-5, 36th) . Baptiste Serin then tried to put a little rhythm, but they were too much to fault. A first act marked by too many imprecisions and an obvious lack of dynamism.
Boring “rugby ping-pong”
Upon returning from the locker room, the Italians came back with better intentions, but they increased the playing time without succeeding in defending the tricolor failing. Sekou Macalou distinguished himself – finally – by scratching a precious ball (45th). The two teams then engaged in an exhausting game of “ping-pong rugby”. Boring as possible … For a forward deemed voluntary, transalpine winger Trulla received a yellow card (53rd), leaving his teammates fourteen for ten minutes. And, immediate sanction, the Toulon winger Gabin Villière – defector of the France team at 7 – pierced the Italian defense (17-5, 55th) after a touch stolen by Killian Geraci. First test for his first selection. Finally a blow of brilliance of the XV of France!
The first line was then completely changed: Atonio, Baubigny and Kolingar made their entry and stood out. And the Blues drive the point home, in quick succession, by captain Baptiste Serin (24-5, 61st) then the Racing winger, Teddy Thomas (29-5, 63rd). The Italian dike, after having held out for a long time, ended up exploding. At the very end of the match, Sekou Macalou made the addition a little more difficult (36-5, 80th) for the Italians, more than limited, who conceded a seventh consecutive defeat on Saturday.
For the French, the march will be much higher next week. The “interim” tricolors – who will be deprived of Baptiste Serin and Teddy Thomas having exhausted their credit of three matches this fall – will challenge England vice-world champion at Twickenham. It will be necessary to show something else to avoid being trampled by the XV de la Rose, impressive during his last outings and certainly revenge after losing to the Blues (24-17) at the opening of the last Six Nations Tournament. But it was not, in February, the same XV of France …