In-form Wales go top as France flop

Wales 19 France 10: Wales moved to the top of the RBS 6 Nations by beating France 19-10 at Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

In-form Wales go top as France flop

It was Wales’ fifth successive win over France and sets up a potential title decider with England at Twickenham on March 12.

Dan Biggar’s kicking tested France, either clever chips over the advancing Les Bleus back-line or hanging garryowens, and Jules Plisson’s careless kick failed to release the pressure.

It should have cost France three points, but Biggar pulled his 10th-minute penalty attempt from 30 metres and the game remained scoreless.

France briefly broke the shackles for Plisson to miss a long-range effort after Wales had been penalised at a scrum.

Wales had dominated territory and possession and it paid off when Jedrasiak took out Faletau off the ball and Biggar opened the scoring with a straightforward kick after 22 minutes.

Wales were cranking up the pressure and flanker Burban paid the price when he tried to stop his opposite number Warburton and briefly had to leave the field in a daze.

Biggar soon extended Wales’ lead with a second penalty on the half-hour mark, but France finally rose from their slumber when Virimi Vakatawa galloped through.

It brought them their first three points when Lydiate was penalised for a no-arms tackle on hooker Guilhem Guirado, referee Wayne Barnes going back to the offence after originally handing Wales a penalty.

Plisson dispatched the kick in front of the posts and France held on until the interval after Gareth Davies’ scintillating break, which ended with Maxime Medard hacking the loose ball away from behind his goal-line, saw Wales camped in their 22 again.

The second half started as the first had finished with Wales camped on the France line after Jonathan Davies burst on to Biggar’s flat pass.

Faletau was on his shoulder to find Warburton who was dragged down within a yard of the line by Maxime Mermoz, but France could not escape completely as Jonathan Danty was punished for lifting Cuthbert in the tackle.

Biggar slotted the simple penalty and Wales soon struck a decisive blow when a French attack broke down in midfield.

Jonathan Davies chipped through for George North to leave a lumbering defence trailing in his wake, but the winger’s dribbling skills almost let him down close to the line.

However, the retreating Plisson inadvertently kicked the ball back into his path for North to score his 25th try for Wales, and his second in successive games.

Biggar converted for a 16-3 lead. Wales knew that they could close out the game there and then and when they did break free they put more points on the scoreboard.

Biggar had gone down with cramp but the fly-half was back on his feet after 66 minutes to land his fourth penalty of the game from 40 metres.

France managed a consolation try through Guirado in the final minute and replacement Francois Trinh-Duc converted, but Wales were comfortable winners to put the championship very much in sight.

Wales scorers:

Tries: North. Cons: Biggar. Pens: Biggar 4.

WALES:

L. Williams, Cuthbert, J. Davies, Roberts, North, Biggar, G. Davies, Evans, Baldwin, Lee, B. Davies, Jones, Lydiate, Warburton, Faletau.

Replacements:

Anscombe for L. Williams (73), Priestland for Biggar (70), L. Williams for G. Davies (76), Jenkins for Evans (55), Owens for Baldwin (66), Francis for Lee (66), Ball for Jones (76), Tipuric for Lydiate (76).

France scorers:

Tries: Guirado. Cons: Trinh-Duc. Pens: Plisson.

FRANCE:

Medard, Vakatawa, Mermoz, Danty, Camara, Plisson, Machenaud, Poirot, Guirado, Slimani, Jedrasiak, Flanquart, Lauret, Burban, Chouly.

Replacements:

Bezy for Medard (66), Fickou for Mermoz (66), Trinh-Duc for Plisson (62), Atonio for Poirot (62), Pelo for Slimani (62), Maestri for Jedrasiak (43), Goujon for Burban (52), Chat for Chouly (62).

Referee:

Wayne Barnes (RFU)

More in this section

Sport
Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

HOME DELIVERY SERVICE

Have the Irish Examiner delivered to your door. No delivery charge. Just pay the cover price.

IE_logo_newsletters

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox