Wales have endured the most dramatic of Six Nations off the pitch but if they can finish with a win over France in Paris, then it will turn a horror show on the field into something more acceptable.
Amid all the drama of the threatened players strike ahead of the England game, Wales endured a nightmare start to Warren Gatland’s tenure with three straight defeats, but victory over Italy in Rome last time out will have buoyed Welsh fans.
France, who just demolished England and are the No 2 side in the world, are undoubtedly a huge step up but with many of their veteran stars playing in what is presumed to be their final Six Nations match, Gatland’s troops will have plenty of motivation.
For their part, Les Bleus can still win the title – although it will require an unlikely favour in Dublin from an England side still reeling from last weekend’s obliteration at Twickenham – but even if the trophy eludes them, Fabien Galthie’s men will be keen to head into a home World Cup later this year with four wins from five in the championship.
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H/T: France 20-7 Wales
France’s half, eventually, with the hosts opening up ominously after Wales had started brightly. It was much, much better from Warren Gatland’s side in the first 15 minutes, with a number of the visitors’ older heads rolling back the years to match their opposition. A powerful maul sucked the French defence in and allowed George North to go over beneath the sticks and give Wales an early lead, but the answer was typically swift – and superb.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:35
HALF TIME! FRANCE 20-7 WALES
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:31
France 20-7 Wales, 40 minutes
Jonathan Danty almost busts free of the Wales blindside defence after Antoine Dupont intelligently switches direction from a midfield scrum, but the ball is jarred free from the centre.
Wales run it back, with Josh Adams and Taulupe Faletau targeting the tramlines on the right. Adams is pushed over the touchline to bring the first 40 minutes to a close.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:31
France 20-7 Wales, 39 minutes
Wales are reeling a little now after that bright opening quarter. The passes are half-a-yard off, and George North knocks on.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:30
France 20-7 Wales, 38 minutes
A French scrum but welcome news for Wales as Alun Wyn Jones returns after being cleared during his Head Injury Assessment. There’s more Six Nations turf yet to tread for the second row.
Antoine Dupont threatens to burst the Welsh defence open with a typically sharp exploitation of space, but can’t find Damian Penaud on his right.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:29
France 20-7 Wales, 37 minutes
A rousing rendition of the French national anthem as the Stade de France crowd roar their approval for that Danty score.
Damian Penaud claims a mark brilliantly after retreating innside his own 22. He taps it quickly, and George North is perhaps a little fortunate that his blocking of an infield pass with extended fingers is deemed only a knock on by the officials. The ruling on Uini Atonio’s earlier intervention is cited by Nic Berry as he explains to Antoine Dupont why North is not penalised – but North did not look like he was ever going to be able to reel that in.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:28
TRY! FRANCE 20-7 Wales (Jonathan Danty try, 34 minutes)
Jonathan Danty scores in the corner! It’s the Toulouse creative axis at their best again, Romain Ntamack making a half-break and connecting with Thomas Ramos, who in turn tees up Antoine Dupont. The scrum-half bowls over a would-be tackler and gets to within five metres.
France ensures the ball remains infield on the left and Wales are short of numbers as the home side spread it to the right, with Danty the end-man on the line and sliding in with a sprint and a fend. Deadeye Ramos converts.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:23
France 13-7 Wales, 32 minutes
A Romain Ntamack kick trickles into the Welsh in-goal, with Dan Biggar happy to let it come to a halt and tap down.
His goalline drop out is taken on the hop by Charles Ollivon, who comes rampaging back to launch a French attack.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:22
PENALTY! FRANCE 13-7 Wales (Thomas Ramos penalty, 30 minutes)
A second penalty in five minutes from Thomas Ramos extends France’s advantage.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:19
France 10-7 Wales, 29 minutes
Welsh hands get to Julien Marchand’s throw, but knock it on. France’s scrum inside the Welsh 22.
Wyn Jones’ elbow hits the deck – penalty to the hosts. Jones shakes his head.
Harry Latham-Coyle18 March 2023 15:18