France see off Wales to maintain slender hopes of Six Nations title

By Paul Myers - RFI
France France see off Wales to maintain slender hopes of Six Nations title
MAR 18, 2023 LISTEN

France brushed past Wales 41-28 on Saturday to maintain their chance of retaining their Six Nations title. Fabien Galthié's men, who won all five of their encounters in 2022, must hope England – on whom they inflicted their heaviest home defeat – beat Ireland in Dublin on Saturday evening

Wales, recovering from the threat of a players' strike and the adapting to the new regime of Warren Gatland, started brightly at the Stade de France.

Their early pep and pressure brought them the opening try when George North ran through a gap just in front of the posts. Dan Biggar added the transformation.

But the lead lasted only three minutes. 
Inevitably, France's dynamic duo of Romain Ntamack and Antoine Dupont were involved. The former swerved his way through midfield and passed to Dupont who weighed up his options and lobbed a pass to Damien Penaud on the right wing to score.

Thomas Ramos's first points of the afternoon drew the sides level and his two penalties nudged France in front 13-7.

That slender lead appeared to fire the flair. And after pushing down to the touchline on the left wing, four long passes to the other side allowed Jonathan Danty to cross over and extend the lead.

Ramos extra two points made it 20-7 to reflect France's sudden superiority just before the pause.

Any hopes of a Welsh comeback were effectively extinguished at the start of the second half.

Uini Atonio – back from suspension – celebrated his 50th cap by bundling over for his first international try.

And just a few minutes later, Ntamack set up Gael Fickou to extend the advantage to 32-7. Ramos notched up two more points to take his tally to 14 points.

To their credit, Wales refused to accept a slaughter and French showmanship allowed them a route to respectability. Ramos was guilty of over elaboration near his own posts and Bradley Roberts accepted the generosity to score. Tomos Williams added another to create the impression of a contest.

When Penaud trotted in with his second of the encounter on the right wing three minutes from time, the French partisans began belting out the national anthem as Ramos racked up two more points to take the team past 40 points for the second time in as many weeks.

Not even Rio Dyer's try and Leigh Halfpenny's conversion could stop La Marseillaise.

The fourth victory of the campaign and a bonus point took France to 20 points. 

But it will be all in vain should Ireland beat England at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

In the first match of the triple-header, Scotland left it late to see off Italy at Murrayfield.

In the closing minutes, the visitors camped on the Scottish goal-line threatening a last-gasp score to at least level affairs and even snatch a victory with a transformation.

But it was to no avail. Blair Kinghorn broke away to rack up his third try of the game and give his side a 26-14 victory.

That defeat left the Italians bottom of the table with the so-ccalled "Wooden Spoon" for the eighth time since they joined the tournament in 2000.