Admittedly, the peeled lawn of the Bielle stadium, in Italy, did not invite good play. But the Blues particularly struggled this Friday for their second and last preparation match for the World Cup (October 8 to November 12), against the Transalpine. Thomas Darracq’s players had laboriously won against this same opponent (21-0) last week in Nice. They were frankly in difficulty this time and risk flying to New Zealand on September 22 with some doubts in mind.
Everything had started well for the French women, deprived of Gaëlle Hermet and whose fifteen had been significantly modified, with in particular the tenure of an unprecedented hinge composed of Pauline Bourdon and Lina Queyroi. From the 9th minute, Madoussou Fall had scored the first try of the match in force, soon imitated by Romane Ménager (31st), starting behind a scrum where the Blues had undermined their Italian counterparts (0-14). But at the end of the first period, the French mechanics seized up and the Transalpines, with rediscovered conquest and sharp attacks, reversed the situation.
Three tries conceded from the 35th to the 45th
Captain Melissa Bettoni closed the gap on a winning penetrating group (5-14, 35th). Then Michela Sillari, on a counter-attack, brought her team closer (12-14, 38th). Stunned, Caroline Drouin’s partners conceded a third try after returning from the locker room, after a ball was stolen in touch near their line (Vittoria Ostuni Minuzzi, 19-14, 45th). Ten minutes from the end of the match, winger Mélissande Llorens gave Les Bleues hope by equalizing (69th, 19-19), Drouin failing to convert the try. But a penalty try conceded after a voluntary forward from Lina Queyroi (74th) and while the Tricolors were again in difficulty in their 22 meters, sealed the victory of the Transalpines.
Les Bleues had not lost against Italy since March 17, 2019 (31-12 defeat in the Six Nations Tournament). A relapse which falls badly, while the announcement of the list of 32 players summoned to compete in the World Cup, initially scheduled for Monday, will take place on Sunday.