Six Nations Game 9 - France vs Wales (32-21)
Stephen Jones [left] tried for an early drop goal in the first minute, but were given the opportunity of a penalty went wide too. Gough stole French lineout then France stole one back.
Then Mignoni passed a cracker to Vincent Clerc who made it to withing 5m of the Welsh line. The French won the subsequent lineout, and got a penalty too, as a Welshman took out a lifter. David Skrela took the three points and a French lead.
After another Welsh lineout and maul, Alix Popham [right] snuck over for a try and Jones punted the conversion to make it 3-7 to Wales. Then the Welsh stole another French lineout, James Hook took a great pass and offloaded to Tom Shanklin who scored right under the posts. Another 3 points from Jones' boot and the French were down by 3-14. A bit of déjà vue with the Scotland/Italy game!
David Skrela took another three points penalty after a Welsh infringement at the ruck, and France had doubled their points. A messy up and under left Wales offside, Skrela kicked for territory for an attacking lineout on the Welsh 22. They won ball initially, but the Welsh turned them over quickly.
For a few minutes, it was all France in attack, but the red defence held firm. Left, right, they kept switching the ruck. Ref Tony Spreadbury had his work cut out to keep them all under control; eventually France were caught holding on. But they lost the lineout throwing in not straight.
France got a scrum and penalty on half way, and they proceeded to jink up the pitch, Christophe Dominici finally going over the line, his 23rd in a French jersey. A simple conversion for Skrela made the score finely poised at 13-14.
Wales gave away a silly penalty taking a man out in the air at a lineout, and the French forwards then went driving for a bit before switching to the backs for a run. Jannick Jauzion [right] found a hole, the Welsh were scrambling in defence for a couple of minutes before Lionel Nallet scored. Skrela's boot did the job and the Welsh were down by 20-14.
With five minutes to go before half time, Shane Williams was smashed in a tackle by David Marty. Skrela had the chance for another three points which just floated over. Bad news for Wales, now 23-14 down.
Les Bleus were on a roll, running the length of the field. Dwayne Peel had to scramble the tackle. The French lineout wasn't straight, which was bit of a get out for Wales as it was 5m out from their line. They must have been relieved to go in for half time.
After the break, Wales secured some ball, but the French soon snaffled it back. Then it was back to Wales; Shane Williams, James Hook and Tom Shanklin nearly getting it over the line, but being ushered into touch at the last minute. The French were lucky to win their lineout.
Then a huge hack back towards the Welsh line was saved by Dwayne Peel [left] with French players hard on his heels. Somehow he managed to clear with a kick. Wales infringed again at the lineout, and Skrela took the points yet again, making it a 12 point lead.
Soon after, France gave away a penalty but Stephen Jones' kick went wide. The French turned over possession from the restart, then Popham made a massive, crunching tackle on Raphael Ibañez. The French were all over the Welsh defence, deep in the Welsh 22. Then a red hand in the ruck gave Skrela another chance at goal. Sweetly struck, it went over once more and Wales were trailing 29-14.
It looked like the French had made another breakaway, but "Spreaders" had spotted a knock-on, so it was a Welsh scrum. Soon after, France gave away another penalty, this time James Hook stepped up to take it. But it floated wide too.
After a French scrum, Pierre Mignoni spotted a hole behind the Welsh defence, with a lovely kick for touch. The Welsh lineout was solid, but Les Bleus got the ball again, only to be done for hanging on in a tackle.
Wales almost gave away another intercept, and were lucky to get away with a scrum, which the French then bossed. Shane Williams [left] were caught offside, but Skrela's kick at goal missed.
Wales won a lineout, but Martin Williams knocked on, a rare mistake from him in this match. Mike Phillips [right] came on instead of Peel, but France took a run upfield. The next Welsh scrum was a mess, not fault of Philips', it was the forwards making a hash.
The Welsh put together some reasonable passages of play, but were unable to get across the half way line very quickly. Eventaully, with five minutes to go, Jamie Robinson broke loose to score under the posts, with Jones adding the points. Than left the "BRAWN" boys trailing by just 8 points, 29-21.
The French forwards went driving from a lineout win, and crept closer to the Welsh line. They were turned over but then got a chance again with a lineout at 10m. Then another chance with a penalty at 79 minutes. Lionel Beauxis took the kick and sealed the game at 32-21. Skrela was Man of the Match.
Or read my ten word review.