Noves admits French rugby team needs to find right balance

Noves admits French rugby team need to find right balance

Paris (AFP) - France coach Guy Noves said his team needs to find the right balance between attack and prudence after sneaking away from their Six Nations opener with a 23-21 win over Italy.

France's youthful line-up showed great desire and ambition in running the ball but were at times reckless and came within a whisker of suffering a historic first ever home Six Nations defeat to their cross-Alpine rivals.

On the one hand their fearless intuitiveness led to some exciting play and even a try when 21-year-old Gael Fickou ran a penalty from right in front of the posts to set up Damien Chouly's score in the corner on 33 minutes when conventional wisdom would have suggested kicking a simple three points was the right option.

But at other times, handling errors and turnovers when trying to play an expansive game from deep inside their own half could have cost the French.

"The satisfaction (at winning) is real. We'd worked on showing the desire (to attack) but now we need to find balance between excessive desire (and pragmatism), especially where we got the ball back but tried to play in difficult circumstances only to lose the ball," said Noves.

"It's not a case of taking risks but being intelligent and looking at the score."

He added: "I prefer to slow down the players. At halftime I told them it was happening so quickly, they have to put the brakes on."

After captaining his country for the first time, hooker Guilhem Guirado, who put in a match-leading 16 tackles, said they would need to play much better in a week's time against Ireland.

"It's good, you're always happy after a win, that's the most reassuring thing," he said.

"Things worked and we pulled it off, but we have a lot to improve on if we want to have a clean match and challenge Ireland next weekend."

Jules Plisson's penalty four minutes from time, from the halfway line and wide out on the right, proved the winning score but Italy captain Sergio Parisse still had a chance to snatch victory for the visitors with the last kick of the match, a failed drop-goal attempt.

Italy have often looked capable of beating anyone on their day at home but have rarely been so competitive on their travels.

But Parisse said that to truly show they're making progress in a tournament in which they've finished bottom of the pile on 10 out of 16 occasions, they must demonstrate the ability to string good performances together.

"We showed that we were a team that despite having many difficulties (from injured players) and lots of young players, for the 80 minutes we had the chance to win the game and if we had won it wouldn't have been undeserved," said the No.8 who plays club rugby for Stade Francais in Paris.

"We lost but we'll take the positives because there were many players winning their first cap and this performance helps for the future.

"However, in the past we've had great games and been close to beating big teams but then the next match we weren't at the races.

"It's a good start and we hope this will help us to improve because we've got England up next in Rome."

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