England match was not real France : Mallett

Italy coach Nick Mallett has warned his players to expect the France team that beat Wales rather than the one that lost to England to show up at Rome’s Stadio Flaminio on Saturday.

Italy tackle the mercurial and inconsistent French in their last Six Nations match of the season hoping to go out on a high with a victory.

For France there is nothing left to play for following last week’s 34-10 humiliation at Twickenham which robbed them of the chance to play for the Six Nations crown this weekend.

However, Mallett is expecting the French to play more like they did in beating Wales 21-16 in Paris three weeks ago rather than in their Twickenham debacle.

“France made turnover errors in the first half while the England team had everything go for them for 45 minutes,” said the South African.

“The true face of the French is much more how they played in the second half when they decided to keep the ball and played more in the forwards and worried the English.

“They won the second half 10-5. France were disappointed after this match but I don’t think the score reflects their level. The match which reflects their level much more is the one they won against Wales.”

With that in mind Mallett has admitted to feeling concerned ahead of the game and he is wary of his own team reading too much into last week’s results – Italy ran Wales close in a 20-15 defeat – and taking their foot off the gas.

“I’m nervous France will have a reaction to the bad game they played against England,” he said.

“I understand the Latin nature. If you play badly then the next game you come back and play really well.

“We have tried all week to talk to the team and (captain) Sergio (Parisse) spoke to the team and told them not to make the mistake that because we’ve done well against Wales we’ll automatically play well against France.

“It’s important for us to realise why we played well against Wales and try to do those things again.

“Great discipline, very good defence – mostly good defence as there were a couple of mistakes on their tries – and putting pressure on Wales with a very good kicking game.”

Mallett also believes that the thrashing France suffered at England’s hands demonstrates just how easy it is for a team to concede a lot of points in a match at this level.

And he said that it put into perspective Italy’s heavy defeats to England (36-11), Ireland (38-9) and Scotland (26-6).

“It just shows in this competition that if you have a bad 40 minutes you can easily get another side score four tries against you.

“We had a couple of bad halves against England in the first half and for periods against Ireland and if France can concede five tries in 45 minutes as quickly as that and they’re a good team, it can happen to any team.

“France are not suddenly a bad team but they conceded five tries very quickly because they made mistakes, so when I say we have to go onto the field and not make mistakes I’m not making excuses, this is why you win or lose games, by avoiding mistakes.”

Parisse, who plays his club rugby in France for Stade Francais, agreed with his coach that Italy could come up against a wounded animal that could well be an even greater danger to them than France might otherwise have been.

He is also aware that France could easily maintain their record of averaging 45 points in Six Nations matches against the Azzurri in Rome.

“After the England match and the criticism they received during the week I think we’ll be up against a team with a huge desire to rebound and show that they won’t repeat that performance,” he said.

“They’ll be playing without pressure, they’re not playing for anything because they’re out of the championship race so they’ll come to Rome looking to create many scoring opportunities and to put as many points on the board as possible.”

Sapa-AFP SixNationsweb

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