/ Six Nations 2016

Wales hold out to beat wasteful France

Updated: Friday, 26 Feb 2016 23:22 | Comments

Wales held out for a win that puts them in a strong position
Wales held out for a win that puts them in a strong position

Wales climbed to the top of the Six Nations table with a 19-10 victory on Friday as they handed new-look France their first defeat under coach Guy Noves.
              
Les Bleus had a long spell of domination early in the second half but failed to make it count while the hosts proved highly efficient, prevailing with a George North try and four penalties and a conversion from Dan Biggar.
              
France replied through Jules Plisson's first-half penalty, a late try from captain Guilhem Guirado and substitute flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc's conversion.
              
Wales have five points from two wins and a draw, one ahead of England, who take on Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday, and France.

France, with almost all of their players under 30, paid for their lack of experience despite producing some promising attacking moves, four months after being ousted in the World Cup quarter-finals following a record defeat by New Zealand.
              
Wales, who got off to a stuttering Six Nations start with a draw against Ireland, were rock solid in defence.

RBS 6 Nations Extras: Wales v France post-match analysis

       
Biggar missed an early penalty and Plisson also lacked precision with the boot as both sides played it tight.
              
The wing put the hosts ahead after Paul Jedrasiak was penalised for a late charge on Taulupe Faletau.
              
Biggar added a second penalty before France stepped up a gear, going close to a try when Virimi Vakatawa broke through the midfield only for his side to be punished for going off their feet at a ruck.
              
Plisson halved the deficit with a routine penalty before the break before Sam Warburton and Jonathan Davies' powerful forays put the France defence to the test.
              
Biggar added three points when Noves' team were penalised for a dangerous tackle by Jonathan Danty.


              
Davies then booted the ball ahead, North made a mess of it before Plisson kicked it into the path of the wing who touched down over the line.
              
The visitors continued to attack but the Wales defence held firm, bundling Maxime Medard into touch after a clever Plisson diagonal kick and stopping Guirado millimetres from the line.
              
Wales extended their advantage with another Biggar penalty before France reduced the arrears when Guirado powered over the line in the closing stages.       

Wales captain Sam Warburton acknowledged the clash failed to set the pulses racing, but he is happy his side walked away with the spoils.

"It was a very ugly way to win a Test," Warburton told BBC One after his side ended France's 100% winning record.

"We kept fighting for territory in the second half. Fair play to France, they kept going for 80 minutes. The plan was to wear them down but it didn't happen.

"From our point of view, we played a team with two wins from two and we're undefeated. It really sets it up for Twickenham.

"I was thinking to myself 'surely the fans are starting a Mexican wave - it's boring'. No-one really knows what's going on in the scrum, if I'm honest. It will be interesting to look back on."

Scrum-half Gareth Davies added: "To be fair to the French, they came here today and gave us a good challenge, especially up front; I think our forwards manned up.

"It was a bit of a scrappy game but a win's a win.

"We'll have to get a few things right in training and hopefully we'll be all ready to go in Twickenham."

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