Wales put away struggling France

Date published: February 27 2016

France dejected after Wales loss

Wales moved top of the Six Nations table with a victory to forget over France in Cardiff on Friday, winning 19-10.

George North's comical try in the second-half proved to be the key score as Wales went on to keep an uninspiring French attack at bay.

A Grand Slam is beyond Wales, but another championship? Whatever happens between England and Ireland on Saturday, the journey to Twickenham for Warren Gatland's troops is already looming large.

Wales were solid in the set-piece, more than competent defensively and even when their execution was far from perfect still won by more than enough points.

Guy Novès can at least move forward without wins glossing over how much work France have left to do to become competitive again.

For starters they need some identity, but that takes time, and Novès deserves all the sympathy he can get after having to watch his players come through a gruelling Top 14 weekend whilst Wales' stars had their feet up. Shaun Edwards' defence gave France no free opportunities.

This first-half won't exactly be remembered fondly with true chances at a premium.

Two penalties from Dan Biggar outscored one effort from Jules Plisson, but neither were perfect off the tee.

Instead this was a half best remembered for the continued efforts of Wayne Barnes to try and set a scrum which fidgeted prior to almost every engagement, chewing away at both the clock and the enthusiasm of all watching on.

Virimi Vakatawa's break highlighted just how rare a defence-splitting attack had been, with the winger looking this way and that before slipping into a tackle. Somewhat poignant.

It looked as though Gareth Davies might be the difference as he burst free before the interval, only for Wales to be denied at the breakdown under the French posts to thankfully bring the half to a close.

Jonathan Danty's tip tackle allowed Biggar to make it 9-3 minutes into the second-half as Wales showed a fraction more intent.

What followed naturally was a calamitous try perfectly suited for the occasion.

Haring after a kick from Jonathan Davies, somehow North went to control the ball with his foot and missed, only to watch with glee as a chasing Plisson blunderingly hacked the ball into North's path for a second bite, from which he scored for a commanding 16-3 lead.

A remarkable counter-drive from France short of the line, from which afterwards Dan Lydiate looked offside, halted a driving maul as they responded trying to somehow get back into the contest.

Full of momentum France had to capitalise on a long spell inside the Welsh 22 but on every occasion they dared to go wide they looked aimless, lacking the penetration from a backline which looked undersized in comparison to their opponents.

France in the end were repelled in what was fast becoming a test of character for Novès and his side, facing their first defeat of the year.

A fourth Biggar penalty came after that failed French stint in Welsh territory, which totalled 19 minutes, more or less settling the contest at 19-3.

One saving grace for France was the introduction of François Trinh-Duc. Judging from the horrorshow Plisson endured it would be no surprise to see Trinh-Duc come in against Scotland based on the direction he added to their attack.

France captain Guilhem Guirado, who deserved better for his efforts, grabbed a late consolation try which meant nothing to the result.

Man of the Match: Liam Williams and Rob Evans both went well but Gareth Davies always looked a threat when given a half-chance.

Moment of the Match: After so many phases inside the Welsh 22, France left with nothing as Dan Biggar's fourth penalty killed off the contest.

Villain of the Match: Nothing nasty to report.

The scorers:

For Wales:
Try: North
Con: Biggar
Pens: Biggar 4

For France:
Try: Guirado
Con: Trinh-Duc
Pens: Plisson

Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 George North, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Gethin Jenkins, 18 Tomas Francis, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Anscombe

France: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Virimi Vakatawa, 13 Maxime Mermoz, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Djibril Camara, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Damien Chouly, 7 Antoine Burban, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Vincent Pelo, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Yoann Maestri, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 François Trinh-Duc, 23 Gaël Fickou

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)
Assistant Referees: JP Doyle (RFU), Luke Pearce (RFU)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)

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