France edges Italy 23-21 to win hard-fought 6 Nations opener

French President Francois Hollande, center, applauds during the Six Nations tournament Rugby match between France and Italy, at Stade de France in Saint-Denis, France, Saturday Feb. 6, 2016. The match will be the first sporting event to be held at the national stadium since it was targeted by terrorists on 13 Nov. This Saturday there will be 250 police and 900 security staff. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
AP

PARIS (AP) France's new-look side rallied from 18-10 down to edge Italy 23-21 in their opening Six Nations match on Saturday, giving new coach Guy Noves a welcome boost as he rebuilds shattered confidence following a dismal Rugby World Cup.

Italy led 21-20 with five minutes left, but flyhalf Jules Plisson thumped a brilliant penalty from 54 meters to give France a hard-fought win at Stade de France.

Left winger Virimi Vakatawa, one of four players in France's lineup making a debuts, scored France's first try.

Flanker Damien Chouly and right winger Hugo Bonneval scored France's other tries in an entertaining, error-strewn match, against a valiant Italy side depleted by injuries.

Italy's tries came from captain Sergio Parisse in the first half and flyhalf Carlo Canna after the break.