Italy 23-18 France
ITALY HAVE THROWN the 2013 Six Nations wide open after they beat France 23-18 at the Stadio Olimpico.
Jacques Brunel’s underdogs started fantastically before being pinned back at the break through Benjamin Fall and Louis Piccamoles tries.
Freddie Michalak’s penalty on 50 minutes made it 18-13 but Martin Castrogiovanni powered through to turn the game on its head.
Substitute Kris Burton then landed a superb drop goal to ensure the French needed a try to steal the game.
The Italians defended doggedly for the final 10 minutes and celebrated wildly as Nigel Owens’ whistle confirmed a stunning win.
The game got off to an iffy start for the French as outhalf Freddie Michalak kicked out on the full to hand the Italians a scrum on the halfway.
The Italians pressed hard in the opening stages and were rewarded when their talisman and captain Sergio Parisse sprinted clear after he was set free by Luciano Orquera.
Orquera added the extras but the French hit back on 11 minutes when Louis Piccamoles busted a Parisse tackle to dot down. Michalak was unsuccessful with his conversion attempt.
The Italian outhalf ensured the home side, backed by a boisterous crowd, were rewarded for a spell of concerted pressure as he landed a fine drop goal to make it 10-5.
Orquera extended the lead with a penalty before France buckled down and made some hay on the wings.
Yoann Huget was denied a try by the TMO before Michalak landed a penalty on 28 minutes. The French had their tails up and were in the lead after 34 minutes when Benjamin Fall raced free for his first Six Nations try.
Michalak had a simple conversion to make it 15-13. The half ended well for France but the game would not.