Galthie demands consistency as France down Italy to top Six Nations

by Luke PHILLIPS
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France's captain Charles Ollivon gives prop Demba Bamba a pat on the head as France celebrate against Italy

France coach Fabien Galthie stressed the need for consistency after watching his team go top of the Six Nations table with a 35-22 victory over Italy on Sunday.

France opened up a 23-10 half-time lead in the second game of the 2020 tournament at the Stade de France, but were forced into seeing off a stubborn Italian comeback to notch up a bonus-point win.

Former Les Bleus scrum-half Galthie admitted that the Italy match had been "tough".

"The first half was almost perfect, we made two errors," he said.

"In the second half, we were less consistent and the team was battered by the Italians."

The French were indeed guilty of taking their foot off the pedal and lost some of the shape of their defensive line honed by respected ex-Wales coach Shaun Edwards that worked so well in last week's opening win over England.

They also conceded 10 penalties, coming on top of seven given away against the English.

"We were less consistent than against England in our defensive strategy," Galthie said, adding that he had nothing negative to say about Irish referee Andrew Brace's interpretations of the law: "Well refereed".

While acknowledging that it was "difficult to sum up things after two matches", Galthie added: "We have two wins and our goal was to win the two matches."

France's South African-born lock Paul Willemse admitted the match had been "frustrating at the end".

"We got the bonus point so are happy with that but there were a lot of errors especially discipline which we need to fix as quickly as possible," Willemse said.

"The atmosphere is great in the team. We have a lot of young guys and have a plan we want to follow. It's about building our own history and we're starting to do that now."

- Italians not 'angry' -

Willemse's compatriot Franco Smith, the Italy coach, said he had been heartened by his team's performance following the opening week's 42-0 drubbing by Wales.

"We're not angry with the performance," the ex-Springbok said.

"We made some mistakes in the first 15-20 minutes, but then we played much better than last week.

"Obviously, there's still work to do."

Smith, who was named interim head coach after the departure of Conor O'Shea, added: "I'm too proud a person to say I'm happy with the scoreline.

"Last week we played a very good Welsh team... and even tonight we left some points out there.

"We'd like to be as competitive as possible."

When asked whether Italy, who have now lost 24 straight Six Nations matches dating back to 2015, deserved their spot in the ring-fenced tournament, Galthie dodged the bullet.

"It's not our role to decide who takes part in the Six Nations," he said.

"It's a team that has some great players and you have to take them seriously. They scored three tries against us today."

France team manager Raphael Ibanez, aslo a former French skipper, added: "You have to hail the Italian performance, especially in the second half.

"We saw a team that played with energy after their first match."

Turning to France, Ibanez insisted the backroom staff were not "not happy".

"We're all about sincerity and truth," he said. "We build and we make progress.

"It's a great start to the tournament: two wins and nine points and first place in the standings.

"That give us confidence to advance."

France's captain Charles Ollivon gives prop Demba Bamba a pat on the head as France celebrate against Italy

Another defeat for Italy but coach Franco Smith said they weren't 'angry' with the performance