"We were lucky." No one will be able to contradict the remarks of Mathieu Bastareaud, released after the painful victory of the Blues against Italy in Rome for their final exit in the 2019 edition of the Tournament (25-14). A victory that owes less to their mastery of the match – non-existent – than to the improbable misfortune or clumsiness (or both) of the Italians who have managed the feat to cross almost half a dozen times the line of goal, in the end, to score only one try.
For the XV of France, at least the total fiasco was avoided. Faced with Transalpine, who had only his enthusiasm to oppose them (but enough to panic), the French managed, after Scotland (27-10), beat the other team their level in the competition. Their fifth win in sixteen games since coming to coach Jacques Brunel at the end of 2017. It also allows them to avoid finishing the tournament with four defeats on the clock for the first time since the transition to six nations in 2000 and the humiliation of a first defeat since 2013 against the Azzurri. Which have not won a single match in the tournament since February 2015 (22 defeats in a row).
But this very sluggish success, since the Blues were still under the Italian threat until the last minutes, does not hide all their shortcomings at six months of the World Cup in Japan (20 September-2 November). Who knows, moreover, what would have happened if the transalpine opener Tommaso Allan had not forgotten five points accessible to the foot. Or if Tito Tebaldi had not committed a forward before the French line (65th) while the Blues were only six points ahead, a new opportunity missed by the Italians unable to materialize their domination.
Or, finally, if Damian Penaud, at the price of a superb defense, did not make escape the Marco Zanon the ball while he slumped in the in-goal (75).e) for ten last suffocating minutes … Where the XV of France could blow only after its third test, signed Penaud precisely (79e). But Penaud and the Blues are currently sailing far, far from the best Southern and European nations: the Welsh who managed to beat them (24-19) despite a delay of sixteen points in opening, the English who rolled them on February 10 ( 44-8) and the Irish who outclassed them on Sunday (26-14).
The coaching of Jacques Brunel, whether reinforced or not for the Japanese meeting, will have to find solutions to avoid the fiasco of a first elimination in pools in the World Cup. And not only, after trying in vain to withdraw the captaincy at Guilhem Guirado after the debacle of Twickenham, by the mere magic of a preparation of two and a half months, with three friendly matches. In front of Scotland, twice, and this same Italy, two opponents of the caliber of the XV of France. Which managed to make him doubt, and even more, Saturday in Rome, for the probable farewell to the tournament of the Italian captain Sergio Parisse, holder of the record of appearances in the competition (69).
From the beginning the beginning of the meeting, the Blues, very unruly (14 penalties), have spread all the excitement that escorted them for 80 minutes, where Italy had largely possession of the ball (65%) and the occupation field (71%). They lost their first two keys (1era and 4e) and multiplied inaccuracies. As this pass Antoine Dupont in the socks of Louis Picamoles, then a forward of Grégory Alldritt that allowed Tommaso Allan to place the Azzurri ahead (6).e and 12e, 11-0).
Penaud, Ntamack and the scrum
Fortunately for them, the Blues scored on their first foray into the Italian camp, by Dupont at the relay of an acceleration of Penaud (16e, 7-6), already. And have been able to count on the Italian weakness, unable to concretize by a test its domination (24th, 28th, 40th). Another meager satisfaction for the Blues, their good behavior in melee which, except a conceded penalty, allowed the XV of France to widen the gap by the boot of Romain Ntamack (21e, 10-6) and recover a valuable penalty in front of his goal line (28-e), as in the second half (66e). In the radius of other satisfactions, the performance of Penaud or that of Ntamack, reliable foot, author of a large drop in the 63rd minute (20-14) and a nice double jump for Maxime Médard on the test of Yoann Huget (47th, 17-9). Poor cache-miseries even though Antoine Dupont, the little nugget of French rugby has, despite his trial, sunk, unable to structure the game of his team, and multiplied the wrong choices.
LIBERATION with AFP