France start World Cup with Italy victory

Frederic Michalak orchestrated France’s 32-10 win over Italy in their opening World Cup match at Twickenham on Saturday.

The veteran fly-half set up the first try of the match for prop Rabah Slimani and also kicked 19 points.

Replacement prop Nicolas Mas scored France’s only other try 11 minutes from time. That left them two tries short of a bonus point and already behind Pool D rivals Ireland.

Italy were without talismanic captain Sergio Parisse with the No 8, who sustained a leg injury in a warm-up match against Wales.

Italy were thrashed 29-0 by France in February’s Six Nations, however neither side showed much imagination in an opening half that saw France lead 15-3 at the break.

All points came through penalties in the first stanza, and France could have considered themselves unlucky not to lead by more after two shots hit the post and controversy again came as a result of video replays.

A loose pass rebounded off Italy’s Leonardo Sarto and was gathered by France wing Noa Nakaitaci.

Joubert awarded the try and France were just about to take the conversion when the official looked at the giant screen to see that Nakaitaci had knocked on.

France finally scored their first try in the 44th minute.

Nakaitaci’s burst down the touchline saw him release Guilhem Guirado, with the hooker hauled down by the posts.

The ball was recycled and Michalak’s kick from five metres out was regathered by Slimani for the front row’s first Test try.

Michalak converted and France were well clear at 25-3.

Italy hit back with a 52nd-minute try when, after Sarto went close, a quick ball allowed Italy wing Giovanbattista Venditti to race over on the right.

Allan converted and France’s lead had been cut to 25-10.

France then saw wing Yoann Huget, visibly in pain, limp off with what appeared to be a severe hamstring injury.

It needed a typically hard-charging run from powerful France centre Mathieu Bastareaud to set up the position from which Mas placed the ball at the base of the post for the second try.

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