x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

France victory the stuff of dreams, says Italy's Sergio Parisse

Italy recorded a first-ever Six Nations victory over France yesterday, much to the delight of their captain.

France's Vincent Clerc, centre, is tackled by Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni, left, and Fabio Semenzato during the Six Nations in Rome yesterday. It was Italy's first win over France in the competition.
France's Vincent Clerc, centre, is tackled by Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni, left, and Fabio Semenzato during the Six Nations in Rome yesterday. It was Italy's first win over France in the competition.

A thrilled Sergio Parisse said Italy's shock victory over France yesterday was a fair demonstration of just how far they had come.

They battled to their first win over the French in a Six Nations with a 22-21 triumph at the Stadio Flaminio in Rome, and Parisse, their captain, said: "It's a dream today, beating France. We've never beaten them before in the Six Nations.

"I'm really proud and happy for all these people."

Mirco Bergamasco's penalty five minutes from the end gave Italy the success, and it capped a fine day for the fly-half, who kicked 17 points in all to add to Andrea Masi's try.

Nick Mallett, the Italian coach, said: "I think we have played our best three games at home in the history of our Six Nations. We were unlucky against Ireland and Wales but we were rewarded in this game. It's a huge achievement."

Vincent Clerc and Morgan Parra scored tries for France, with Parra also kicking 11 points.

Marc Lievremont, the France coach, said: "Italy merited the win. I am saddened and frustrated. Italy looked the better side for the 80 minutes.

"I knew that we could lose one day to Italy but I didn't think it was going to happen so soon.

Meanwhile, Wales kept alive their title hopes with a 19-13 win over Ireland in Cardiff.

Mike Phillips's 56th-minute try for the Welsh proved decisive, though the Irish were left fuming that the try should not have been awarded as the score came from a quickly taken line-out with a ball that was not the one kicked out.

James Hook kicked 11 points for Wales, while Brian O'Driscoll, the Irish captain, scored his side's lone try in the loss.

The win moves Wales level on points with England, who can move clear again today with victory over Scotland at Twickenham.

Despite the Scots having not won a game yet this campaign, the England coach is still expecting a tough encounter.

"People anticipate a big Calcutta Cup game," Martin Johnson said. "There is one constant with Calcutta Cup games, no matter what the score has been. They are always a fight and a battle."