Second-half spell pleases Saint-Andre
February 9, 2014
Bonneval's try capped a tremendous start to the second half for France © Getty Images
Philippe Saint-Andre declared himself happy that his side demonstrated they had learnt their lesson from last week's win over England as they kept their Six Nations Grand Slam bid on track with a 30-10 victory over Italy.
France were nearly undone against England, down largely in part to a slow start in the second half, and again against Italy they came out for the second half with a slender lead - just 9-3 ahead after a cagey opening 40 minutes. But they ensured there was no repeat, roaring into life from the restart as Louis Picamoles, Wesley Fofana and debutant Hugo Bonneval killed off Italy's resistance with tries in a devastating nine-minute spell.
For the opening hour France were largely untroubled - but late on they lost Sebastien Vahaamahina to the bin and had Rabah Slimani sent off as Italy grabbed a consolation try. But despite a disappointing final 20 minutes Saint-Andre was happy to focus on the positives.
"Last week, the beginning of the second-half against England was terrible, so we were very focused to start well in the second-half," Saint-Andre said.
"We did some good work for 55-60 minutes. We scored three tries, but nothing happened in the last 20 minutes. There were lots of penalties for both sides and two red cards.
"It was a good 60 minutes, but very disappointing for the last 20. We didn't have any ball."
Slimani's sending off was perhaps the only blemish on an afternoon which saw France join Ireland as the only remaining Grand Slam hopeful. The prop saw red after an exchange of punches with opposite number Michaele Rizzo, who was also given his marching orders - becoming the first players to be sent off in the Six Nations since 2006.
The pair will face disciplinary hearings to see whether they will face bans - but Saint-Andre admits he did not want to let that or Vahaamahina's late yellow card take away from a resounding win.
"The yellow card was very harsh," he said. "The red cards, I think there was a scrum and something dodgy. I just prefer to see the three good tries we scored.
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