Tag: Camille Lopez

Six Nations: Italy 0-29 France

France ease past Italy in dire affair

France kept their slim Six Nations dreams alive with a 29-0 win at Italy on Sunday.

In an error-strewn, turgid, scrappy match Yoann Maestri’s try gave France the necessary breathing space to go through the motions for the rest of the second-half. And in the last play of the match substitute Mathieu Bastareaud ploughed over from close range to stretch the lead to 29 points.

Both teams were erratic from the tee, with Italy missing three shots at the posts, and Camille Lopez notched six points before being substituted at half-time with his replacement Jules Plisson knocking over 10 and Scott Spedding three.

France went into the game amid rumours coach Philippe Saint-Andre would lose his job should Les Bleus fail in Rome but despite making 19 errors – one more than Italy – they were in control throughout. It was the first time Italy had failed to score a point at home since they joined the Six Nations in 2000.

Italy suffered the late withdrawal of fly-half Kelly Haimona with a groin injury and Tommaso Allan, who started at No.10, looked to suffer an injury in a similar area pre-match. He lasted just 13 minutes and looked to aggravate the injury when attempting a kick at the posts and was hauled off for Luciano Orquera who fared little better from the tee. Italy also lost Matias Aguero and Luca Morisi to injury in the first-half.

France made eight changes for the match and debutant Noa Nakaitaci was the first to stretch his legs with a 60-metre dash only to be hauled down by Sergio Parisse who was making a record 112th appearance for the Azzuri.

The case of Nakaitaci rampaging down the wing was a rare sight in a first-half blighted by knock-ons and penalties. Italy had a pair of shots at the post but missed both while Lopez and Spedding got the scoreboard ticking over for the visitors as they went into the break nine points to the good.

Any hopes of the hosts finding some momentum in the second-half were quashed in the opening moments when the normally precise Parisse conceded a silly penalty. Plisson stroked it over and four minutes later they had the first try of the game thanks to a wonderful sweeping move which was started by the impressive Spedding.

He collected a loose kick in his own 22 and ran through the Italian defence to give France key field position. Debutant No.8 Loan Goujon took the ball on and it was eventually recycled to Maestri who crossed unopposed in the corner.

Italy had chances to get some points on the board but spurned opportunities for kicks at the posts for a shot at a driving lineout, a weapon they used so effectively against Scotland in the last round. But they were misfiring in the setpiece with Thierry Dusautoir keeping a stranglehold on the battle in the forwards. Italy’s frustration was compounded in the 74th minute when skipper Parisse limped off.

As the clock ticked past the 80th minute, France won a five-metre scrum and eventually the ball found substitute Bastareaud who crashed over under the posts to give Plisson the simplest of conversions.

The win for France gives them the slim chance of finishing this Six Nations as champions. They need a win against favourites England at Twickenham, alongside a Scotland win over Ireland and for Italy to beat Wales. They also need to make up the points difference with them lying currently 15 off England.

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Six Nations: France 13-20 Wales

Wales kept alive their Six Nations title hopes with a hard-earned 20-13 victory against France in Paris.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties as Wales edged a tight first half 6-3, but the game burst into life after an hour.

Dan Biggar crossed for a slick Welsh score only for France to hit back with Brice Dulin’s try in the corner.

Another Halfpenny penalty eased Welsh nerves as they sealed a fourth straight win over France for the first time since 1957.

Having lost to England on the opening weekend, Wales knew only a win would suffice for them to have a chance of claiming a fifth championship in 11 seasons.

And following their latest Parisian triumph – a fifth win in nine visits to Stade de France – they host Ireland on 14 March with their title dreams intact.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said beforehand they would be on “red alert” defensively, wary of a French side they expected to adopt a more expansive approach than in previous matches.

The omission of juggernaut centre Mathieu Bastareaud did not hinder their physicality, however, as Yoann Huget set the tone for a confrontational start with a thumping tackle on opposing wing Liam Williams.

Wales centre Jamie Roberts was prominent as a battering ram in midfield, and the away side’s forays into French territory were rewarded as two Halfpenny penalties either side of one from Camille Lopez put Wales 6-3 up.

Genuine scoring opportunities were at a premium, although France thought they had the opening try after half an hour, only for Huget’s touchdown to be disallowed for a forward pass.

Wales then threatened as George North galloped into the French 22 but, after that period of pressure yielded no points, the visitors could count themselves fortunate to lead at half-time as Lopez missed two penalties.

The fly-half redeemed himself with a penalty early in the second half but Halfpenny’s third soon restored Wales’ lead.

After an hour of attrition, Warren Gatland’s side extended their advantage with a stylish try.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb made the initial sniping break before passing to flanker Dan Lydiate, whose deft sleight of hand allowed Biggar to scamper over in the corner.

It took only seven minutes for France to strike back, their forwards pounding the Welsh line before the ball was spread wide for Dulin to squeeze over for a first French try against Wales since 2011.

Halfpenny soothed fraying Welsh nerves with another penalty, before the visitors had to withstand a late flurry of French pressure to secure a memorable victory.

Read more at BBC Sport

Six Nations: Ireland 18-11 France

Ireland remain unbeaten in this year’s Six Nations after a gritty victory over a disappointing France in Dublin.

Man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton, who had been out for three months with concussion, kicked four first-half penalties as Ireland led 12-6 at the break.

With both sides engaged in a torrid battle at the breakdown there was little flair on display and fans had to wait until well into the second half for the first clear-cut try-scoring opportunity, which Ireland butchered.

French lock Romain Taofifenua scored the only try of the match after 70 minutes but two more penalties had already made Ireland safe.

Joe Schmidt’s Ireland, the defending champions, have now won nine games in a row and host England, who are also unbeaten in this year’s tournament, in two weeks’ time.

And Schmidt will be buoyed that Sexton, flanker Sean O’Brien and prop Cian Healy, who were all returning after long injury lay-offs, came through a tough battle unscathed.

It was expected that giant French centre Mathieu Bastareaud would target Ireland fly-half Sexton, but it was Sexton who went looking for Bastareaud early on, bringing the Toulon man to a juddering halt and earning his side the put-in at the resulting scrum.

Tommy Bowe nearly latched on to diagonal kick from Sexton, but a penalty had already been awarded and the Racing Metro number 10 duly kicked the hosts into the lead.

France levelled the score through the boot of Clermont’s Camille Lopez, but two more Sexton penalties, after France twice infringed at the breakdown, gave Ireland a six-point lead.

Teddy Thomas, who had looked one of the liveliest of the French three-quarters, limped off shortly before half-time, before Lopez reduced Ireland’s lead to three points after Rory Best was penalised for being caught on the wrong side at a ruck.

But France’s indiscipline cost them again, allowing Sexton to pop over a simple penalty and make the score 12-6 to Ireland at the break.

It had been an attritional first half, more notable for the number of infringements and turnovers at the breakdown than any commitment to creativity or attacking verve.

Shortly after the restart, Ireland full-back Rob Kearney fielded a high kick in the French 22 and Sexton was clobbered by Bastareaud from the resulting attack. Having clashed heads, both players were led from the field, with Sexton replaced by Leinster’s Ian Madigan.

Madigan increased his side’s lead with his first attempt at goal and with France’s scrum also starting to creak, Ireland appeared heavy favourites with 30 minutes to go.

Both sides lost a man to the sin bin, while Sexton, who returned to the fray after 55 minutes, should have set up his side’s first try, but centre Jared Payne was unable to gather the fly-half’s fiery short pass.

Sexton slotted his fifth penalty before replacement lock Taofifenua touched down unopposed after the visitors, despite making handling error after handling error, eventually found a way through Ireland’s defence.

With replacement prop Vincent Debaty making his presence felt up front, France gradually improved as the second half wore on and at least attempted to put width on the ball in the final stages, but despite a late assault they were unable to deny Ireland victory.

Read more at BBC Sport

Six Nations: France 15-8 Scotland

France battled to a hard-earned victory over Scotland in Paris in a contest that offered much encouragement for new Scotland coach Vern Cotter in his first Six Nations match in charge.

Three penalties from Camille Lopez had France 9-3 ahead as the clock ticked towards half-time, only for Dougie Fife to complete a sweeping move by diving over in the corner for a well-deserved try for Scotland.

The intensity did not let up in the second half, with only a Lopez penalty adding to the score, even with Scotland being reduced to 14 men when John Beattie was yellow-carded. Lopez finally rounded out the win with a penalty in the final minute, much to the relief of the home crowd.

There was little in the history books to give Scotland hope ahead of their opener in Paris, but there was a definite look of confidence about Cotter’s men.

With largely the same side which did so well against Argentina, New Zealand and Tonga in the autumn, the new coach aimed to sack the French capital for the first time in 16 years.

However, Philippe Saint-Andre’s hosts felt they have shaken off the difficulties which have plagued them for the last three years, even if they did lose to the Pumas last time out.

The Scots handed tournament debuts to Blair Cowan, Finn Russell and Mark Bennett but were without the injured duo of Sean Maitland and Matt Scott, while Les Bleus – wearing a red kit for the first time in 56 years after ditching their traditional white change attire – gave South Africa-born scrum-half Rory Kockott his first cap.

There was barely a minute on the clock when Cowan gifted the hosts an early penalty and Lopez punished his indiscipline as he knocked his kick over with the help of a post.

But the Scots did not look fazed by the London Irish forward’s mistake and dug in to repel a couple of French surges.

Russell settled well, selling Lopez a lovely dummy, while Richie Gray took the initiative with some decent carries before a collapsed scrum allowed skipper Greig Laidlaw to level things with Scotland’s opening penalty.

Les Bleus – or Les Rouges as they have been dubbed – swarmed back up field from the kick-off and claimed another penalty as they stretched Cotter’s men one way then the other, with Lopez making no mistake with his kick.

With devastating power and some clever off-loads from the likes of Mathieu Bastareaud and Damien Chouly, the Scots, who replaced wing Tommy Symour with Fife after a hip injury ended his game after 17 minutes, were forced to scramble more than once as they held on.

In the face of such impressive attacking talent, Cotter’s men knew it was imperative they took their chances when they came along. Stuart Hogg tried with a penalty from two yards inside his own half while Russell went for a drop goal, but neither could slot through the posts.

The Scots were growing in confidence, though. Alex Dunbar sent a grubber through for Hogg after a catching out Wesley Fofana, but Yoann Huget came to the hosts’ rescue, but another indiscretion at the breakdown by Rob Harley allowed Lopez to boot over again.

The visitors’ response was first class. They muscled up field and, after pushing to within a yard of the whitewash, kept their composure to feed the ball wide for Bennett and then Euan Murray, who kept it simple as he made sure Fife dived over in the corner.

Laidlaw’s conversion hit the upright as the French clung on for a slender half-time lead.

The French steadied themselves as the game restarted and were able to extend their lead when Scotland’s try scorer suffered a rush of blood to the head.

Fife tried and failed to keep Lopez’s kick for touch in and after slumping to his backside petulantly threw the ball away. Welsh referee Nigel Owens was not amused – neither was Fife as Lopez nailed the penalty given against him.

Rob Harley was replaced by Alasdair Strokosch after 53 minutes – but was called back into action moments later as Cowan suffered a bump to the head.

France swept forward again but some brave Scottish resistance held them up a yard from scoring, while Lopez missed for the first time with his boot soon after.

Scotland hopes of overhauling the four-point deficit were hit, though, when they lost Beattie to the sin-bin with just under 20 minutes left.

The Castres No.8 was punished for clattering into the side of a ruck as France pressed into the Scots’ 22. It was the last thing Cotter’s team needed as they chased a historic win in the French capital.

Another Lopez penalty then put daylight between the teams and ensured Scotland would have to wait until the summer – when they return in World Cup warm-up action – to put right their Parisian track record.

Read more at ESPN