Three tries against Italy were enough to give France the win. France is in second place and needs a big win over unbeaten Wales in Cardiff next week to retain the Six Nations title.
France extended their perfect record against Italy with a 25-13 win on Sunday that kept alive their slim chances of retaining the Six Nations title.
France, who bounced back from a defeat by England on the same Stade de France pitch two weeks ago, will now try to ruin Wales's grand slam hopes next Saturday in Cardiff.
Wales would have been crowned champions had France lost to Italy, and Marc Lievremont's side must now win by a big margin at the Millennium Stadium to keep the title. France, relying on a largely experimental side with three newcomers, recorded their ninth victory from as many Six Nations encounters with Italy.
They suffered, notably in the lineouts, but scored three tries by fullback Anthony Floch, centre Yannick Jauzion and wing Aurelien Rougerie and collected 10 points from the boot of scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili.
Italy, who fought bravely and trailed their hosts 13-6 at the break, had to be content with a second-half try from prop Martin Castrogiovanni and eight points from fullback Andrea Marcato.
A rebuilding French side, who looked clumsy at times on a soggy pitch but showed flashes of brilliance, recovered from a nervous start to score a classic try on 13 minutes.
After the French pack confidenty marched through the Italian half, flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc seized the ball and kicked it to the left. Wing Julien Malzieu caught it and swiftly passed it on to Floch who touched down in the corner. Yachvili passed a tricky conversion to put the hosts 7-0 up.
A spell of sustained Italian pressure followed, during which Marcato converted two penalties with one by Yachvili in between.
On the half hour, France led 10-6 and struggled to contain the fiery visitors.
Another penalty from a faultless Yachvili followed and France woke up, narrowly missing a second try because of a forward pass before changing sides.
A moment of flair 10 minutes into the second half saw Jauzion latch on to an astute kick along the line by Yachvili to give France their second try.
Italy responded swiftly with a collective effort by their forwards rewarded by Castrogiovanni's try before running out of steam.
Rougerie then had a score denied by video evidence but kept trying and concluded another fluent move by the French backs to dive over the line for the home side's third try, which Yachvili converted to complete the scoreline.
Date created : 2008-03-09