Ending disappoints Saint-Andre
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre believes there is still room for improvement following his team's 30-10 Six Nations victory over Italy on Sunday.
The hosts went into the break 9-3 up at the Stade de France after an error-strewn display from both sides, with 16 penalties conceded, yet only four were successfully converted to points.
However, a devastating nine-minute spell to start the second half saw France home and dry as No 8 Louis Picamoles, centre Wesley Fofana and winger Hugo Bonneval all crossed to give Saint-Andre's side breathing space.
Scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain kicked three conversions to add to his three first-half penalties, while Italy could only muster a late consolation try from Tommaso Ianonne, despite dominating possession throughout the second period.
The closing stages of the match were marred by two red cards as Jaco Peyper sent off substitute props Michele Rizzo and Rabah Slimani following a scrum melee.
Victory means France equal Ireland's unbeaten start to the tournament after two rounds of action, but with a trip to Cardiff to face defending champions Wales after the week-long break, Saint-Andre acknowledged his side must sustain their quality throughout.
"We worked well for 55-60 minutes," he said. "We scored three tries, but did nothing in the final 20 minutes. There were lots of penalties for both sides and two red cards.
"It was a good 60 minutes, but very disappointing for the last 20. We didn't have any ball."
Post-match discussions are likely to centre around the South African official's decision to dismiss both Rizzo and Slimani, making them the first to see red in a Six Nations match since 2006, when Scotland lock Scott Murray was sent off in Wales.
Italy forward Rizzo started the skirmish with a head-butt, and when Slimani reacted in similar fashion Peyper brandished red cards after conferring with his assistant Craig Joubert and consulting television replays.
Asked about the sendings-off, Saint-Andre remained coy, insisting he must consult the footage before passing judgement.
It meant France were briefly reduced to 13 players following the sin-binning of lock Sebastien Vahaamahina for kicking the ball away.
"The yellow card was very harsh," Saint-Andre added. "The red cards, I think there was a scrum and something dodgy. I just prefer to see the three good tries we scored.
"Last week, the beginning of the second-half against England was terrible, so we were very focused to start well in the second-half."
Defeat for Italy leaves them bringing up the rear with fellow winless side Scotland and their head coach Jacques Brunel was left feeling his side deserved more from the game.
With neither side able to assert their dominance in the first period, Italy's deficit stood at a manageable six points at the interval.
However, a number of handling errors and infringements opened the door for France, who seized their opportunities.
The majority of the second period was played out in the France half with Italy far superior on territory count, but Brunel was left lamenting a sloppy 10 minutes.
"It's a strange feeling, because for 60 or 70 minutes we were close to France's level and at times even got on top," the Italy coach said.
"But those 10 minutes or so (in the second half) totally changed the game."