Gael Fickou scores for France
Gael Fickou scored one of France’s three first-half tries
Italy: (3) 10
Try: Sperandio Pen: Garbisi Con: Garbisi
France: (24) 50
Tries: Cretin, Fickou, Vincent, Dulin, Dupont, Thomas (2) Pen: Jalibert Cons: Jalibert 6

France swept Italy aside to start the 2021 Six Nations with an emphatic 50-10 bonus-point win in Rome.

The 2020 runners-up never looked back after Dylan Cretin scored in the fifth minute for the first of seven tries.

Teddy Thomas crossed twice, while scrum-half Antoine Dupont set up three tries as well as scoring himself.

Italy’s only try came from Luca Sperandio but the inexperienced Azzuri could do nothing to prevent their 28th consecutive Six Nations defeat.

France coach Fabien Galthie will know his side will face a much tougher test when they play Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Les Bleus’ next outing, while opposite number Franco Smith is set for a daunting few weeks, starting with a trip to Twickenham to face England next Saturday.

Dupont, the 2020 championship’s player of the tournament, laid on his side’s second try when his subtle chip ahead was picked up by Gael Fickou.

Even better was to follow when the Toulouse number nine brilliantly offloaded the ball over his shoulder in a tackle to allow Arthur Vincent to go in under the posts.

Italy showed signs of promise for the rest of the first half only to fade away in a brutal spell early in the second half that saw France stretch away.

Brice Dulin went over in the corner after collecting Gabin Villiere’s kick ahead, then Dupont scored his try under the posts after Thomas looked inside to find him.

Dupont returned the favour for Thomas’ first try three minutes later, but Italy had their best moment soon after when Sperandio’s skill saw the winger collect his own kick ahead to go over in the corner.

But France extended their lead with seven minutes left when Dulin’s feed inside gave Thomas the chance to cross for the second time.

‘France are the real deal’ – analysis

Former England fly-half Paul Grayson on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra: France have pace and power and players with jet shoes on the wings. They are the real deal. They will have much sterner tests to come but they are heading in the right direction at a very quick pace and have players to come back in such as Romain Ntamack.

Italy had a very young team and will find bits where they can find positives but frankly it looked like too many of their team were playing on the big stage for the first time. They have a lot of thinking to do.

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