RBS 6 Nations: Wales 27, France 6

February 21, 2014
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France are strutting cockahoop while Wales wallow. After all France have won both of their Six Nations matches, while Wales were thrashed last time out.

Not that Wales would normally wallow long and France are unlikely to be overconfident.

France beat England who looked better than they did and they beat Italy with a burst of 21 points from three tries early in the second half. Both of those matches were at home whereas this one will be away. Not that the playing surface at Millennium Stadium, closed roof notwithstanding, will be better than the playing surface at Stade de France.

Both sides have beaten Italy – Wales 23-15 in Cardiff and France 30-15 in Paris. France scored three tries to one but battled for most of the second half for a score that possibly flattered them. Wales and Italy each scored two tries in their match. In both matches Italy struggled for want of an adequate goal-kicker.

There is a belief that France always wins in the aftermath of a British & Irish Lions tour.

There was no such tradition before 1997 as between World War II and 1997 it happened only twice. But it has been true since then – in 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010. If the effect of a Lions’ tour has a debilitating effect it should be a lot worse for Wales who had 15 of the 37 tourists and 10 players in the third, deciding Test which the Lions won so comfortably 41-16.

On present form and in keeping with the aftermaths of the last four Lions’ tours, France should stay cockahoop on Friday night.

Wales has to overcome France and also the demoralising effect of Welsh Rugby Union’s decisions which have affected professional players in the country. Of Friday’s 23, seven already play in other countries and others will follow next season.

France has a particularly settled side with only one change from the team that beat Italy. Good flank Wenceslas Lauret comes in to replace South African Bernard le Roux, who drops out altogether. France has made changes to the bench where Brice Mach comes in for injured Benjamin Kayser, big Belgian Vincent Debaty for suspended Rabah Slimani who was sent off against Italy and Rémi Talès, fit again, for François Trinh-Duc.

Injury played a part in some of the Welsh changes. Luke Charteris is back in the side after his hamstring injury, replacing Andrew Coombs, and Scott Williams is out of the side because of injury. As he did against Australia in November, George North moves to centre. giving Wales a huge centre pairing. Luke Williams comes in on the wing in place of North. Not injury related but certainly behaviour related, belligerent Mike Phillips who drops to the bench while Rhys Webb moves off the bench to start. The change may well make for quicker thinking and clearing and less kicking, apart from improved behaviour.

Goal-kicking is always a crucial part of the game . Here Wales have Leigh Halfpenny, one of the very best goal kickers in the world, while Jean-Marc Doussain is also no slouch. Halfpenny probably has the edge but much depends on how the team creates opportunities – in other words in which half they ‘get’ the penalties.

Wales may play a different kind of game and we could well have the sight of two sets of creative back running at each other, two sets of creative loose forwards making life happier for the backs and two competitive tight fives going at it hammer and tongs. Much will depend on the make-up of the Welsh minds. If it gets mind, heart and sinew working in unison, they could well win this match.

What the effect of the weather will be on crowd attendance is doubtful but you would not be keen to drive through filthy weather from Aberystwith and back on a Friday. Still the rugby heart of Wales from Llanelli to Newport and up to Neath is not a long way from Cardiff and it may well be a relief to be warmly housed watching Wales play and singing Land of My and Bread of Heaven with heads thrown back and mouths wide open. They are tough people, the Welsh.

This may well be the last match that great referee Alain Rolland of Ireland will be refereeing before slipping off into retirement. It will be his 69th Test in an illustrious career – a rarity as an international player who became an international referee. He will be 48 in August, nearly six years older than the next oldest of current international referees, Steve Walsh of Australia.

Recent results:
2013: Wales won 16-6 , Paris
2012: Wales won 16-9, Cardiff
2011: France won 9-8, Auckland (World Cup semifinal)
2011: France won 28-9, Paris
2010: France won 26-20, Cardiff
2009: France won 21-16, Paris
2008: Wales won 29-12, Cardiff
2007: France won 34-7, Cardiff
2007: France won 32-21, Paris

Teams

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 George North, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Alun Wyn Jones, 4 Luke Charteris, 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Paul James, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Justin Tipuric, 21 Mike Phillips, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 James Hook.

France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Hugo Bonneval, 10 Jules Plisson, 9 Jean-Marc Doussain, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Wenceslas Lauret, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri 4 Pascal Papé (captain), 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Thomas Domingo.
Replacements: 16 Brice Mach, 17 Yannick Forrestier, 18 Vincent Debaty , 19 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 20 Damien Chouly, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Rémi Talès, 23 Gael Fickou.

Date: Friday, February 21
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 20.00 (20.00 GMT; 21.00 French time)
Expected weather: The weather does not affect the match as it’s roof is likely to be closed but it can affect getting to the ground. The forecast if a 40 percent chance of rain on a cold day with a high of 8°C and a low of 6°C
Referee: Alain Rolland (Ireland)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)

By Paul Dobson

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26 Comments

  1. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:05 pm

    Listening the singing of the French anthem it sounds their is a lot of Frogs in Wales tonight.

  2. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:08 pm

    First Penalty to Wales for off sides by Frogs…..

    Halfpenny over and take Wales to a 3 point lead

  3. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:10 pm

    A lot of kicking maybe they got some tips from Frans on his so called winning game plan :)

  4. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:13 pm

    Wales score after Frogs mess up with a kick ahead but it first go to TMO…..

    Try award to George North

    Score: Wales 8, France 0

  5. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    Wales playing with some purpose

  6. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    Wales gets another penalty and Halfpenny set his sights to poles again…..

    Over!!

    Score: Wales 11, France 0

  7. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:21 pm

    France came back with a almost a try but a small knock on in the tackle gives Wales the scrum, lucky for Wales as France were all over them

  8. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    France get penalty over…

    Score: Wales 11, France 3

  9. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:27 pm

    Wales get penalty in scrum and Halfpenny goes for poles again…..

    Over!!!

    Score: Wales 14, France 3

  10. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:29 pm

    Like the way the French players stay on their feet in the tackle

  11. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    France gets a penalty after some brilliant play to get into Wales half of the field……

    France miss in front of the poles

    Score: Wales 14, France 3

  12. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:33 pm

    France almost get themselves into trouble with bad collecting of a kick through ball.

  13. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:38 pm

    Both teams willing to run the ball exciting game and nice to watch.

    Better than the nonsense the Cheetahs and Bulls dished up

  14. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:39 pm

    Penalty to France and this time they get it over

    Score: Wales 14, France 6

  15. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:42 pm

    Penalty now for Wales for not rolling away after the tackle…

    Wales going for points….

    Over!!!

    Score: Wales 17, France 6

  16. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:47 pm

    Ref talks to captains about the scrums which he believe is a mess…..

    He warns that he will send players of if it goes on this way

  17. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Final penalty in the half goes to Wales and Halfpenny kicks it over…..

    Halftime Score: Wales 20, France 6

  18. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:08 pm

    France get first penalty in second half…but miss again

  19. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:10 pm

    France butcher a try which should have been

  20. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:13 pm

    Refs send both props off after another collapse in scrum

  21. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Game is going nowhere as this stage players are playing the man more than the ball and too many handling errors

  22. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:24 pm

    Wales get a kickable penalty…..

    Halfpenny miss

    Score Wales 20, France 6 with 20 min to go

  23. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:29 pm

    France lose another player to the bin and playing with 14 players….

    Wales score from lineout… but TMO looks for knock on

  24. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:31 pm

    Try awarded to Wales….

    Score Wales 27, France 6

  25. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:45 pm

    Yellow Cards cost French tonight, Wales just too good on the night

  26. avatar Jacques(Bunny) says:
    February 21st, 2014 at 11:50 pm

    Final Score: Wales 27, France 6

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