Italy 23-18 France, February 3, 2013
Italy record famous win over France
February 3, 2013
Date/Time: Feb 3, 2013, 16:00 local, 15:00 GMT
Venue: Olimpico Stadium, Rome
Italy 23 - 18 France
Attendance: 57547  Half-time: 13 - 15
Tries: Castrogiovanni, Parisse
Cons: Orquera 2
Pens: Orquera
Drops: Burton, Orquera
Tries: Fall, Picamoles
Cons: Michalak
Pens: Michalak 2
Italy's Sergio Parisse darts over for the home side, Italy v France, Six Nations, Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy, February 3, 2013
Sergio Parisse crashes over for Italy
© Getty Images

Match Analysis by ESPNscrum

  • Man of the Match: Luciano Orquera produced the best performance by an Italy No.10 since the days of Diego Dominguez to steer his side to a memorable victory. A threat with ball in hand and assured with the boot he deservedly claimed the Man of the Match honour and will forever be associated with this famous win.
  • Key Moment: France scrum-half Maxime Machenaud powered into the Italy 22 midway through the second half but crucially failed to go to ground and recycle the ball. Italy countered and less than a minute later Martin Castrogiovanni had scored at the other end of the field.
  • Hero of the Game: Orquera's influence could be seen throughout the game with a sublime offload in the tackle to Martin Castrogiovanni that led to the prop's try the pick of many telling contributions.
  • Villain of the Game: It may be a little harsh to criticise France fullback Yoann Huget for his failure to ground the ball when driven over in the first half so his team-mates can shoulder some of the blame for their lack of urgency and creativity as the game slipped away from them.
  • Talking Point: Italy are no longer in the Six Nations to make up the numbers - they fear no-one and have no reason to do so. Wales and Ireland have to travel to Rome later in the competition and both will be in the Azzurri's sights.
  • Play of the Game: Italy signalled their intent early on with an outstanding try to open the scores. Fullback Andrea Masi sparked the move by evading two tacklers as he collected a long clearance, Orquera then ghosted through the French line and injected some pace before feeding Sergio Parisse who had too much pace for the cover defence.

Italy blew this season's Six Nations wide open by recording a stunning 23-18 victory over title favourites France at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

Leicester prop Martin Castrogiovanni scored the decisive try of a thrilling encounter that saw Les Bleus' Grand Slam hopes destroyed on the opening weekend. Skipper Sergio Parisse also touched down, but Italy fly-half Luciano Orquera ran the show majestically, kicking a drop-goal, two conversions and a penalty before his replacement Kris Burton's late drop-goal saw the Azzurri beat France for a second successive Six Nations occasion on home soil.

France conjured first-half tries for number eight Louis Picamoles and wing Benjamin Fall, with Frederic Michalak slotting two penalties and a conversion, but they could have few complaints about the result. Italy survived a frantic finale, holding out despite being under sustained scrum pressure after replacement hooker Davide Giazzon was sin-binned two minutes from time.

But they had heroes everywhere as France threw everything at them, gaining a victory that means they will head to Edinburgh next weekend as favourites to beat Scotland. France, meanwhile, must beat reigning Six Nations champions Wales in Paris next Saturday or see their hopes of silverware disappear without trace.

Italy made a dream start, breaching the French defence inside five minutes after the tone was set by Michalak sending his kick-off straight into touch. The Azzurri capitalised on his error by monopolising possession after that, and they produced a magnificent try started by wing Luke McLean's weaving run.

Orquera then sliced open the French midfield defence and Parisse coasted to the line unopposed, rounding off a superb passage of play that gave France immediate food for thought. Orquera added the conversion and then dropped a goal, but his scoring exploits were rudely interrupted courtesy of a trademark power-surge from Parisse's opposite number Picamoles that opened Les Bleus' account.

A breathless opening quarter ended as it started with another Italian score, this time through an Orquera penalty that gave the home side a 13-5 advantage and left France needing to find far more attacking inspiration than just Picamoles smashing it up the middle.

France almost cut the deficit 13 minutes before half-time after full-back Yoann Huget was driven over Italy's line by his fellow forwards, but television match official Gareth Simmonds ruled that replay pictures were inconclusive. Michalak booted a penalty awarded after the resulting scrum, and France could sense more points as half-time approached, with midfield gaps beginning to open up.

And the dangerous Huget sparked a move that hauled Les Bleus level, running aggressively from just inside Italy's half and causing sufficient panic in the home team's defence to leave Fall with a clear run. Michalak kicked the conversion, edging France ahead for the first time and securing a 15-13 interval advantage they just about deserved.

Italy needed to rediscover their impressive early fluency, but technical indiscipline crept into their game, with Michalak landing a long-range penalty after prop Andrea Lo Cicero was penalised by Welsh referee Nigel Owens. It was typical of the game's unpredictable nature, though, that Italy should score next, and Orquera's role was again pivotal when he delivered a brilliant off-load under pressure to Castrogiovanni.

The powerful forward marked his try by blowing a celebratory kiss to the crowd, and Orquera's conversion put Italy back in front as France captain Pascal Pape limped out of the action. The 2011 World Cup finalists had it all to do and coach Philippe Saint-Andre began using a star-studded replacements' bench, sending on the likes of scrum-half Morgan Parra and centre Mathieu Bastareaud.

But Burton's drop-goal sealed the deal, meaning a first defeat in five Tests for France and giving Italy an opening weekend Six Nations win for the first time since 2003.

© Getty Images
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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