15. Luke McLean: 6
Another solid if unspectacular outing from McLean. Something of a quandary, he rarely seems to have a bad game, but also seems to seldom genuinely influence proceedings. Sunday was no exception, with few contributions of great note, but no real clangers either. Resembles something of a poor man’s Mike Brown.
14. Tommaso Iannone: 6.5
Didn’t get much of an opportunity with ball in hand or space but took his try smartly. The best wingers are able to take their chances whenever they come and Iannone certainly did that, even if it was too little too late. Needs to try and work himself into the game more often in spite of Italy’s lack of width.
13. Michele Campagnaro: 6
It would have been all but impossible for Campagnaro to live up to the expectations of last week at the Millennium. He had a far quieter game this week, although he continues to look threatening when given some space. Sadly, such opportunities came around far too rarely on Sunday.
12. Gonzalo Garcia: 4.5
Fared little better than Sgarbi last weekend, offering little on the gainline and proving to be merely solid at best in defence. Two very average and ill-advised missed long shots at goal did not help Italy’s cause.
11. Leonardo Sarto: 7
Whenever he got near the ball he made a positive contribution. Three exceptional cover tackles saved one certain try from Dulin and almost halted both Picamoles and Huget in full flight against the odds. Showed excellent strength on one or two carries but was too often given the ball with a wave of French defenders waiting to crash down upon him.
10. Tommaso Allan: 5
Not a great day out for the youngster. Still shows flashes of promise and ought to be given plenty of time, but his goal-kicking was wayward once again and he did not trouble the defence in front of him often enough.
9. Edoardo Gori: 6
Gori, to his credit, provides Italy with excellent control; his kicking from hand was once again first rate and for that he should be commended. However, if they cannot find a way to create some quick ball they aren’t going to win many games. Once Botes came on and upped the tempo, Italy looked more likely to score, although the game was long gone by then.
8. Sergio Parisse: 6.5
Got through an enormous amount of work, although he was perhaps overshadowed for once by the exceptional Picamoles. One audacious offload out the backdoor was a joy to behold.
7. Mauro Bergamasco: 5
Some good carries late on but also threw the loose pass which led to Bonneval’s try. At 34 looks to be a yard short of the pace that made him such a formidable force a few years ago.
6. Francesco Minto: 7.5
My eyebrows were raised somewhat when Alessandro Zanni was left on the bench but Minto totally justified his selection. He had an excellent game highlighted by a bruising defensive effort when Italy’s backs were against the wall. Unlucky to have been taken off after only 50 or so minutes.
5. Joshua Furno: 6
Worked tirelessly around the park and can take a share of the credit for Italy’s improved lineout. Couldn’t quite generate enough go forward with ball in hand though, not unlike Bortolami last week.
4. Quintin Geldenhuys: 6
Points too for Geldenhuys’ contribution to an excellent set-piece effort, particularly in the first half. Unfortunately, he could not match the exploits of his inimitable opposite Pascal Pape.
3. Martin Castrogiovanni: 6
A strong first half with one or two wild thrusts up the middle and some powerful scrummaging helped Italy to keep things close. Tailed away somewhat after halftime though as Domingo began to get on top.
2. Leonardo Ghiraldini: 6.5
The improvement of the Italian lineout, with Ghiraldini hitting a number of tricky throws to the tail, should be applauded. He was also tremendously physical at the breakdown, but like Castro, didn’t have the same impact after the break.
1. Alberto De Marchi: 8
A marvellous showing from De Marchi. A weapon with ball in hand, he made three eye-catching busts through French tacklers. Finding himself in open field at one point he stalled, perhaps to contemplate imitating the French backs of old, clumsily shuffling his hips in an attempt at a side-step, before wisely opting to run straight into Brice Dulin. Excellent at scrum time as well, he was Italy’s best player on the day.
The introduction of Tobias Botes added some much needed zip to Italy’s attack, with a clever offload leading to Iannone’s try. Similarly Luciano Orquera looked like he was trying to make things happen, although often with limited success, and France’s intensity had dropped significantly by that point. Michele Rizzo made an impact in an altogether undesirable fashion.
By Patrick Cheshire (@jpcheshire)
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images