Rugby Union

Mathieu Bastareaud .

Mathieu Bastareaud produced a moment of brilliance before France try vs Italy

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All eyes were on Mathieu Bastareaud as he returned for France against Italy - and the centre certainly didn't disappoint.

The 29-year-old was back in Jacques Brunel's starting XV having served his three-match ban for abusing Benetton's Sebastian Negri in the Champions Cup.

To be fair, the Toulon man is far from the only French player whose behaviour has been under the spotlight since the Six Nations began.

Since that now infamous night out in Edinburgh, five Les Bleus stars were dropped, including Teddy Thomas, who had shone thanks to his tries against Ireland and Scotland.

This was a very different side to the one that lost 32-26 at Murrayfield, but those who came into the team impressed.

Paul Gabrillagues scored the first try and Bastareaud would also get on the scoresheet late on after a 60-metre French break.

The latter was named man of the match and it was no less than he deserved.

However, it was his role in Hugo Bonneval's try, with the Test still poised at 14-10, that really put Italy to bed.

Bastareaud spotted a big gap in the defensive line and despite weighing over 20 stone, he quickly made up the metres.

A brilliant offload 

Two Italy players then attempted to take him down but before they could, he produced a sublime one-hand offload to Bonneval.

The Fullback then played the ball to Remy Grosso, who returned it for Bonneval to skip over the try line.

Check it out below:

Bastareaud's power consistently proved to be too much for Italy and his return was a huge plus for the hosts.

There was one disappointing moment for him when the ball bounced off his knee and thwarted an attack, yet ultimately the only question was why France didn't score more.

The Stade Velodrome crowd even started to boo the penalties in the second half as they sought a more entertaining showstopper.

Ultimately, though, this was a night of getting the job done in Marseille given France's poor recent form, and in spite of a few moments of rashness, that's exactly what they did.

What did you make of Bastareaud's performance? Have your say in the comments. 

Six Nations
Italy Rugby
Rugby Union
France Rugby

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