Wales Cling On To Sign Off Six Nations With A Thrilling 14-13 Win Over France

Wales Cling On To Sign Off Six Nations With A Thrilling 14-13 Win Over France
19:08, 17 Mar 2018

Wales held on for a tense victory over France to secure runners-up spot in this year's Six Nations.

Warren Gatland's men claimed the win with a first-half try from winger Liam Williams and three penalties from full-back Leigh Halfpenny.

France battled gamely throughout and were largely dominant but had just one try to show for their efforts - from winger Gael Fickou - as they finished fourth in the table.

Wales made seven changes from their thumping win over Italy as Dan Biggar returned at fly-half.

Open-side Josh Navidi, prop Rob Evans and hooker Ken Owens also returned, as does lock and captain Alun Wyn Jones.

Leigh Halfpenny came in amid a back-three reshuffle as Liam Williams moved to the wing, while Owen Watkin made way for Scott Williams in the centres.

Centre Mathieu Bastareaud led France out in the place of injured captain Guilhem Guirado, whose place at hooker was taken by Adrien Pelissie and Gael Fickou replaced full-back Hugo Bonneval, missing with a head injury.

Elsewhere, Benjamin Fall switched to wing and Cedate Gomes Sa started at prop instead of Rabah Slimani.

Wales fans were in buoyant mood before kick-off after Ireland's win over England which secured the Grand Slam for Joe Schmidt's men.

That meant the Welsh had the chance to finish second with victory over France, who led inside the fourth minute with a drop-goal from Francois Trinh-Duc.

But in the fifth minute, Wales scored their first try when Liam Williams dived over from the kick-off, only for Halfpenny to pull his first kick of the evening wide.

That poured confidence into Gatland's men and they soon extended their lead when Halfpenny booted a penalty to make it 8-3.

France's ill discipline quickly grew apparent and in the 16th minute another penalty from Halfpenny made it 11-3.

Wales continued to probe and Dan Biggar sent up a high bomb and winger George North threatened the France rearguard.

Yet in the 21st minute France hit back with a try from Toulouse centre Gael Fickou, who started and finished a scintillating move which also involved Adrian Pelissie and Wenceslas Lauret.

Maxime Machenaud added the extras to make it 11-10 but the pendulum soon swing back in the favour of Wales, who went close again when a delightful pass from Gareth Davies found captain Alun Wyn Jones, who showed intelligence to break the line and send the ball back to Davies.

The move came to nothing, but it hinted at the possibilities on offer for the hosts.

Eight minutes before the break, Halfpenny added a penalty to make it 14-10 to Wales at the break.

Machenaud then kicked a penalty nine minutes after the break to cut Wales' advantage to one point as genuine try-scoring opportunities grew scarce as the hosts held on.

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