Gabin Villiere scored a hat-trick to help France open their Six Nations title charge with a bonus-point win against a dogged Italy in Paris on Sunday.
It was by no means a vintage performance from France, who have come into this year’s tournament as title favouries. Despite dominating territory and possession, the hosts often struggled to break Italy down in wet and rainy conditions at the Stade de France.
The first 30 minutes of the match were tightly contested as Italy took a surprise 10-8 lead thanks to a sensational finish in the corner from 19-year-old debutant winger Tommaso Menoncello. France’s try was an intercept by loose forward Anthony Jelonch.
However, Gabin Villiere stole the show as he dotted down either side of half-time to put France in the driving seat.
Just when it looked like Italy might be able to frustrate France out of a four-try bonus-point, Anthony Dupont and Penaud combined to put the latter over for what looked to be a vital try in their campaign.
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 6, 2022
There was still enough time for France to launch one more late attack, which ended with Villiere sealing his hat-trick with his third try of the match.
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