Scotland hold rivals 15-15 as Ireland stay on course with easy Six Nations beating of Wales.
|Scrum half Morgan Parra kicked 16 points as France hunt their first title since 2007 [AFP]|
France outplayed Italy with their trademark flair to 46-20 in Paris and stay firmly on course for a grand slam in Six Nations.
The home side ran in six tries on Sunday, including two from centre David Marty and earned 16 points from the reliable boot of scrum half Morgan Parra.
Italy, who had recorded a rare win over Scotland in their previous outing, had to be content with two penalties from wing Mirco Bergamasco and late consolation tries from substitutes Carlo Del Fava and Pablo Canavosio, both converted by Bergamasco.
France will chase their first victory in the Rugby Union championship since 2007 and their first grand slam since 2004 when they host England on the same Stade de France pitch next Saturday.
France had wrapped up the match within 25 minutes as Imanol Harinordoquy and Marty ran in three tries, the latter a brace to celebrate his recall to the starting line-up.
The home side’s task was made easier when centre Gonzalo Garcia was yellow-carded by no-nonsense Irish referee Alan Lewis for an illegal block on Marc Andreu when the wing was looking favourite to follow up his chip ahead and touch down.
Italy did at least show some fight towards the end as Carlos del Fava was at the end of a good move as the lock recorded his first try in 44 Tests.
Pablo Canavosio also touched down with a fine individual effort to add to the one he scored against Scotland.
Bergamasco added the conversion to give the scoreline a somewhat flattering look for the visitors.