World Cup finalists France handed new coach Philippe Saint-Andre a winning start in the Six Nations with a 30-12 victory over Italy at a freezing Stade de France on Saturday.
Tries from Aurelien Rougerie, Julien Malzieu, Vincent Clerc and debutant Wesley Fofana, allied with 10 points from Dimitri Yachvili's boot guided France past a toothless Italy side that dominated territory and possession for large periods of the game.
The visitors rarely threatened the French line and when they did launch an attack, were well marshalled by the home side, their points coming from Kris Burton's drop-goal and two penalties, and a third penalty by Tobias Botes.
Italy dominated the opening 10 minutes of play without really threatening, but it was Yachvili who opened the scoring with a 11th minute penalty.
The Australia-born Burton, who had an optimistic early drop-goal charged down, was successful with his second effort to draw the scores level.
France hit straight back, centre Rougerie slicing clean through the midfield defence for a simple try Yachvili converted for a 10-3 lead.
Burton cut the deficit with a penalty after Pascal Pape failed to roll away at a ruck in front of his own posts.
Italy continued to pose France problems at the set-piece and the home side were guilty of forcing the pass as they tried to get on the front foot.
But then Malzieu popped up on his left wing, the welcome recipient of a pass from the impressive No.8 Louis Picamoles after the French pack had won a scrum against the head, the lanky Clermont flyer scoring a fine individual try.
Handing off Edoardo Gori and fullback Andrea Masi, Malzieu easily stepped inside rookie counterpart Giovambattista Venditti and produced a further fend of Gori to crash over in the corner, Yachvili missing the extras.
Burton's early second-half penalty from the halfway line fell short, but the flyhalf nailed a third effort from close range in the 47th minute to keep Italy in the game.
But as they had done against Ireland and Australia in the World Cup, the Italians began to wilt around the 50-minute mark, and looked increasingly ragged around the ruck and the halfback channel.
Yachvili missed a longe-range effort as France tried to turn the screw, debutant centre Wesley Fofana finally able to show some of his trademark dancing footwork in close quarters.
The Biarritz scrumhalf made no mistake with his third penalty effort, which was quickly followed by Clerc's try, the result of a chip and chase by Francois Trinh-Duc with the Italian defence nowhere to be seen.
With a muted, near sell-out crowd of 79,563 seemingly numbed by temperatures of -2 degrees Celsius, South Africa-born replacement Botes kicked a third penalty for the Italians.
But it ended with a fourth French try after Quintin Geldenhuys was shown a yellow card for collapsing a rolling maul with the line in sight.
From the ensuing line-out and ruck, Fofana showed good strength to cross for a try to mark an assured first international outing.
Man of the Match: French skipper Thierry Dusautoir was as reliable as ever with an incredible work rate, while wing Julien Malzieu was a handful down the left touchline and finished off an excellent try. Azzurri scrumhalf Edoardo Gori was energetic, while Sergio Parrisse lead the charge with a few moments of individual brilliance. However, the star of the show was French No.8 Louis Picamoles - he set-up Malzieu's try and was strong and justified his selection ahead of Imanol Harinordoquy by being involved in just about everything good that the French did.
Moment of the Match: France won a tighthead scrum and No.8 Louis Picamoles took the ball off the back and drew defenders before releasing Julien Malzieu. The left wing handed off a couple of would-be tacklers before brilliantly stepping inside Andrea Masi to score an outstanding try.
Villain of the match: Italian lock Quintin Geldenhuys for giving away a penalty and getting booked for pulling down a French maul that was headed for the tryline.
Tries: Rougerie, Malzieu, Clerc, Fofana
Cons: Yachvili 2
Pens: Yachvili 2
Pens: Burton 2, Botes
Yellow card: Quintin Geldenhuys (70 minutes - illegally pulling down a maul)
France: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Dmitri Yachvili, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Pascal Pape, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Vincent Debaty.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 18 Yohann Maestri, 19 Imanol Harinordoquy, 20 Morgan Parra, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Maxime Mermoz.
Italy: 15 Andrea Masi, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Kris Burton, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Robert Barbieri, 6 Alessandro Zanni, 5 Quintin Geldenhuys, 4 Cornelius van Zyl, 3 Martin Castrogiovanni, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Andrea Lo Cicero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Lorenzo Cittadini, 18 Marco Bortolami, 19 Simone Favaro, 20 Fabio Semenzato, 21 Tobias Botes, 22 Gonzalo Canale.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
AFP and rugby365.com
Gilbert has released a new line of rugby cleats. The Gilbert Virtuo 8S is part of the exciting new product. Check it out.
The entire All Blacks apparel line has been updated for 2013/14. Check out the New Zealand All Blacks polo.
The Nike Tiempo is a solid rugby cleat and one of few styles still made from full-grain natural leather.
The Gilbert Blitz 8S rugby cleat is a great cleat at a great price of $69.99. Get a new pair of cleats today.
A cool looking all black rugby cleat with the high performance adidas is known for. Get in the Gear!
Wear the crest of the British and Irish Lions on your t-shirt. A great look for the summer.
The All Blacks Performance t-shirt is black with hints of blue from the training jersey. Very Cool.
The New Zealand All Blacks training jersey for 2013/14. Get in the Gear!
The USA Rugby Pro Alternate rugby jersey is perfect for any fan of the Eagles. Get yours to wear during the summer Test matches.
The NEW All Blacks 2013/14 jersey has arrived at World Rugby Shop. Dare to wear the colors of the All Blacks.