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England beaten in Paris, Italy stun Wales

England were beaten 25-13 in Paris, as Les Bleus claimed a first Grand Slam in 12 years.

England started brightly, as Marcus Smith and Henry Slade put France under pressure with probing kicks into their territory, and the returning Sam Underhill made his presence felt in defence.

The hosts bagged the first points of the Test through full back Melvyn Jaminet, who slotted a penalty in the eighth minute after a collapsed English scrum, and eight minutes later Gaël Fickou crossed for a try, making it 8-0.

Smith landed a penalty to get England on the scoreboard, before Jaminet restored Les Bleus' eight point lead with one of his own on the 23-minute mark.

As half time approached, Ellis Genge caused France problems with abrasive carrying that punctured holes in their defensive line - the prop making 78 metres in the opening half.

Smith bagged another penalty before flanker François Cros scored Les Bleus' second try on the stroke of half time - Jaminet's extras making it 18-6 at the break.

Steward scored England's first try eight minutes into the second half. It came off the back of a Joe Marchant break - the centre brought down 10 metres from the whitewash.

The ball was recycled quickly and spread through the hands to Steward on the wing, who cut back inside before powering over. Smith's extras cut the deficit to five points.

But just as the visitors were growing in confidence, scrum half Antoine Dupont clinched Frances' third try, wrestling back momentum on the hour mark.

England remained competitive as the Test neared its end, as replacements Harry Randall, Alex Dombrandt, Ollie Chessum and Joe Marler made notable contributions.

Smith brought England's attack to life, and Steward was inches away from latching onto one of his grubber kicks and a second try, but the spirited attack was thwarted by staunch French defence, and Les Bleus held on to record a 25-13 win.

Wales ended their Guinness Six Nations campaign with their first defeat against Italy since 2007.

Wayne Pivac’s men looked like they had escaped with a win but a tremendous break from inside his own half from Ange Capuozzo put Edoardo Padovani over for a last-gasp try. Paolo Garbisi slotted over the conversion to secure a historic victory for the Azzurri, their first ever in Cardiff.

It was a special day for two players in particular with captain Dan Biggar winning his 100th cap for Wales, while Alun Wyn Jones celebrated a remarkable 150th. Italy began strongly with their pack pushing Wales backwards, while they were extremely effective at the breakdown.

Garbisi opened the scoring from the kicking tee, with Padovani extending their lead with a long range penalty.

Wales looked dangerous in broken play and on two occasions Louis Rees-Zammit came close to scoring, but the ball spilled forward. Pivac’s side finally turned pressure into points with a beautiful pass from Taulupe Faletau sending Owen Watkin straight through a gap in the Italian defence.

The Ospreys centre jinked his way past two defenders to score the opening try which Biggar converted. But Italy retook the lead with another two penalties, and were beginning to find holes in the Wales defence.

A break from Juan Ignacio Brex set the Welsh alarm bells ringing, but the real threat came a few minutes later when Monty Ioane powered into the Wales 22 only to get brought down by Seb Davies.

Italy were rampant in the early stages of the second half and should have extended their lead when Ioane regathered his chip kick. The Benetton wing raced clear instead of passing the ball inside, but was denied at the corner by a tremendous last gasp tackle from Josh Adams.

Wales were beginning to grind their way back into the game, and destroyed the Italy scrum to give themselves a five metre lineout. The Wales pack drove Italy backwards for Dewi Lake to power over from short range on his first Wales start. Biggar added the extras to fire Wales back into the lead.

A well-judged kick from Nick Tompkins which was chased by Rees-Zammit pinned Italy back behind their own try line. But instead of grounding the ball Ioane broke clear up field, resulting in Italy winning a penalty right in front of the Wales posts which allowed Garbisi to kick the visitors back into the lead.

Wales emptied the bench, and as a result picked up the tempo. Italy were beginning to tire and Adams took full advantage when he sliced through the visiting defence to score. Wales now had the bit between their teeth, and lay siege to the Italy line with a period of sustained pressure.

Replacement prop Wyn Jones thought he’d scored but the TMO disallowed the try with there being no evidence of a grounding. Italy survived and won the game with a tremendous try at the death from Padovani.


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