France 19-24 Wales
 Wing North capitalises on French mistakes with two tries

Madness – but is it not always between these two? Or, at the very least, when France play. Still there is no knowing who or where they are. Les Bleus tore Wales apart in the first half – as much as any side can be torn apart in rain like this. The visitors did not know where to turn, their quiet confidence before this tournament shredded, their composure shot.

France went into the break with a 16-0 lead but it could have been more, Morgan Parra missing three kicks at goal. No international side should lose a lead like that at home – not even France. How they laugh in the face of received wisdom. Here they handed Wales the game in the most agonising manner, yielding three tries in the second half, each one softer than the previous, the third just after they had regained a lead they had somehow lost with nearly 20 minutes to play.

And so Wales claimed a 10th consecutive win with this, the biggest comeback in their history. “The big difference between the two,” said Warren Gatland, “is that we’ve become a side that have forgotten how to lose and France are a side still looking for confidence.”

It was unbearable to watch, such had been France’s form in the first half. Wales were braced for a battering by one of the heaviest packs known to rugby, nearly 50kg heavier than their own. When the rain set in an hour or so before kick-off that expectation turned into an assumption. Sure enough, France confounded us all there too. French power up front was the least of Wales’s problems.

Les Bleus had also picked a backline of more traditional elan and they were not afraid to use it. Threats came at Wales from every player, one to 15, and never once from anything so slow or predictable as a rumble up front. Louis Picamoles cut back after one fluent move to score the game’s first try after only five minutes. At the start of the second quarter France had their second.

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1 Comment. Leave new

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    January 7, 2022 9:28 pm

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