Planet Rugby

France end on a high

19th March 2011 17:05

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Lionel Nallet france v wales

Nallett: Punches the air after scoring his second try

France ended their Six Nations campaign on a high after beating Wales 28-9 in Paris, and in the process leap-frogged their visitors into second place in the final championship standings.

Lock and man-of-the-match Lionel Nallett scored a try either side of half-time to kill off any chances the Welsh had of winning this match, while wing Vincet Clerc effectively ended the contest after touching down under the posts whilst James Hook was serving 10 minutes in the bin.

Ireland's 24-8 win over England in Dublin earlier in the day meant Wales went into the match knowing they had to beat France by 27 points - they never came close and finish the tournament fourth overall.

Wales weren't helped with controversy surrounding defence coach Shaun Edwards after he was banned from any involvement in the game at the Stade de France after internal disciplinary action.

The result restored French pride after last week's humiliating loss to Italy in Rome and also confirmed England as this year's Six Nations champions.

James Hook got his team on the board as early as the second minute with a well-struck penalty that sailed straight and true between the uprights from a difficult angle.

First blood to Wales but Morgan Parra was quick to level the scores with an equally impressive strike 10m in from the touchline. Hook had a chance to reclaim Wales' lead, but this time pulled his second attempt wide.

Wales then suffered a major blow after flank Sam Warburton was forced to leave the field with an injury and replaced by Jonathan Thomas.

Parra put France in front for the first time in the match with a penalty goal in the 25th minute, but failed with his third attempt to extend Les Bleus' lead even futher.

Wing Leigh Halfpenney looked to be home and dry for Wales' opening try, but a last-gasp ankle tap by fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc saved the day for France.

Instead it was France who crossed over for the first five-pointer thanks to a brilliant bull-dozing run by Nallett after throwing a dummy and stepping on the gas. The former French skipper took two Welsh defenders over the line with him in the corner, but Parra couldn't follow up the try with a conversion.

At half-time, France deservedly held an 11-3 lead.

It didn't take long for Hook to get his side within five points of the French with a penalty two minutes into the second half but the Perpignan-bound pivot was soon guilty of gifting France their second try.

Hook's attempted clearance kick was charged down by Julien Pierre, who offloaded for his second-row partner Nallet to touch down for the second time. Parra rediscovered his range with the conversion to pad France's advantage to 18-6.

An exchange of penalties between Hook and Parra made it 21-9 before the officials made a decisive intervention.

Hook was shown the yellow card by referee Craig Joubert, who - acting on the advice of his touch judge - deemed the Wales fly-off guilty of a dangerous tackle on Parra. Replays suggested it was a harsh call, Hook having lifted Parra off the floor before easing him back to the ground rather than simply dropping him.

The extra man told immediately, Clerc added France's third try by collecting Trinh-Duc's chip over the onrushing defence.

Wales almost kept things interesting when, after a breakout against the run-of-play, Davies was stopped just short of the posts and France were able to prevent the ball being recycled quickly with plenty of red shirts waiting out wide.

Clerc was denied a second try of his own when his dive for the right corner saw him stopped just short and France then comfortably ran the clock down as La Marseillaise rang out around a contented Stade de France.

Man of the match: Two tries, too good - take a bow Lionel Nallet.

The scorers:

For France:
Tries: Nallett 2, Clerc
Cons: Parra 2
Pens: Parra 3

For Wales:
Pens: Hook 3

France: 15 Maxime Médard, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 David Marty, 12 Damien Traille, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Imanol Harinordoquy, 7 Julien Bonnaire, 6 Thierry Dusautoir (c), 5 Lionel Nallet, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 William Servat, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Guilhem Guirado, 17 Luc Ducalcon, 18 Pascal Papé, 19 Alexandre Lapandry, 20 Julien Tomas, 21 Fabien Estebanez, 22 Yoann Huget.

Wales: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Leigh Halfpenny, 13 Jamie Roberts, 12 Jonathan Davies, 11 George North, 10 James Hook, 9 Mike Phillips, 8 Ryan Jones, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun-Wyn Jones, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Matthew Rees (c), 1 Paul James.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 John Yapp, 18 Jonathan Thomas, 19 Rob McCusker, 20 Dwayne Peel, 21 Stephen Jones, 22 Morgan Stoddart.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)

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