Sun, Feb 23, 2014 - Page 19 News List

Wales trash France, revive title hopes

WINNING WAYS:The Wales pack dominated, while their defense frustrated all France’s efforts to run the ball wide, restricting the visitors to score points with the boot only

Reuters, CARDIFF, Wales

Wales shrugged off a crushing loss to Ireland two weeks ago with an emphatic 27-6 victory over France at the Millennium Stadium on Friday that keeps alive their dream of a third successive Six Nations title.

Center George North scored a first-half try and captain Sam Warburton added a second near the end, while French No. 8 Louis Picamolles was in the sin bin and fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked 17 points.

The result leaves Wales, France and Ireland all on four points before the unbeaten Irish were to face England at Twickenham yesterday, looking to win the Triple Crown and take sole lead in the championship.

France, previously unbeaten after wins over England and Italy, were second-best all night to a dominant Wales pack who put behind them the 26-3 defeat in Dublin.

Wales also overcame the loss of lock Alun Wyn Jones, who pulled out of the match at the last minute with a foot infection, with coach Warren Gatland handing Jake Ball his second cap.

France’s only replies came from first-half penalties kicked by scrumhalf Jean-Marc Doussain and flyhalf Jules Plisson, with the home defense frustrating their every effort at running the ball.

“We were caught cold, we struggled to settle and we lacked order. It got very difficult to get back into the match,” the visitors’ fullback Brice Dulin told France 2 TV.

North scored the opening try after five minutes and the Welsh were 11-0 up after 10 minutes following two penalties from Halfpenny, leaving the French reeling.

In a Wales attack down the left, the ball came to Halfpenny out on the wing, who spotted a gap in the stretched defense and kicked ahead.

North chased and touched down when Dulin, who appeared to have the ball under control, let it slip from his grasp on the line.

France wing Yoann Huget crossed over on the right in a rare French attack after 14 minutes, but the try was disallowed for a knock-on by captain Pascal Pape as he tackled Wales flyhalf Rhys Priestland in the buildup.

The sides changed ends with Wales, who can still achieve an unprecedented third successive outright title, leading 20-6.

Maxime Machenaud replaced Doussain at scrumhalf and he was at the hub of a series of attacks in the second half that failed due to French handling errors and strong defense by Wales.

A prop from each side, man of the match Gethin Jenkins and France’s Nicolas Mas, were sent to the sin bin 10 minutes into the second half when a scrum collapsed after the packs had received warnings from Irish referee Alain Rolland.

Picamolles was yellow-carded just past the hour for an infringement in a maul, when the French could ill afford to be a man short.

A minute later Wales scored their second try when Warburton burst through a tiring defense and stretched to touch the ball down on the line, with Halfpenny managing his only conversion.

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