France owe their win to the try on debut for Virimi Vakatawa while Damien Chouly also crossed in the opening 40 minutes for the hosts. But, it was Italy which made a promising start with Michele Campagnaro running with purpose and taking the hosts by surprise.
Carlo Canna got his name on to the score board first with a finely-struck drop goal. France struck back through Vakatawa’s try which wasn’t converted but France were back in the contest. Italy came back through Parisse who managed to cross for Italy and the visitors trailed by just 10-8 at the break.
The second half started brightly for the Italians with Leonadro Sarto starting a fine intercepting move leading to a Canna penalty. This was followed by a try for the Italian fly-half to give an 18-10 lead for the visitors.
The French coach Guy Noves made some quick changes and a fine try from Hugo Bonneval brought France back into the game. Jules Plisson converted the kick but Kelly Haimona brought Italy back with three points. However, Plisson brought France back into the lead with a huge lick from halfway.
There was enough time in the tie for Italy to win the contest but the visitors couldn’t set up the drop goal. Parisse’s eventual effort for the drop goal was more in desperation than hope for Italy.
This game was a wonderful advertisement for this year’s RBS 6 Nations and set the tournament nicely. France will host Ireland in Round 2 at their home State de France on 13th February and would look to build from their good start. Italy will have a chance to start their conquest with a home game against England on 14th February.