By Lucky Maree
Let’s remember that Nigel Owens predicted that Wales will win their last Six Nations match of the year against France. He said it with a straight face so maybe he was serious.
On the other hand, it is never certain which French side will pitch up – and as there is very little to play for they might just pull out their “we don’t care” attitude with a shoulder shrug. And when the French don’t care, they really don’t care.
From the beginning Wales are on the French line, only inches away from the first score of the match until George North scores a well-deserved team try under the posts.
Wales are full value for their seven point lead after eight minutes of relentless attack but two minutes later, Romain Ntamack runs through what looks like the entire Wales team, hands over to Antoine Dupont who throws a perfect 30 metre pass to send Damian Penaud away to easily score on the right hand side.
With the scores even, Wales again go onto the attack. It is somewhat frantic but their effort is praiseworthy.
For the next 25 minutes nothing happens except aimless movement from side to side by both teams – until Jonathan Danty finishes a brilliant move. When they play like this, the French are very difficult to stop. Clearly Wales can’t. Maybe the Springboks can.
Whatever French coach Fabien Galthié said in the changeroom at halftime, it worked. The French come out fighting and the ball moves through many hands until prop Uini Atonio crashes over for their third try.
Whatever Warren Gatland said at halftime didn’t work. After their excellent first try, Wales seem to have stalled completely, being outplayed in all phases.
Gael Fickou breaks through the centre for a solo try that gives France the bonus point, for what it’s worth. France lead by 27 points and Wales are still stuck on the field for another 30 minutes.
Sloppy play by France allows Wales to pick up a loose ball. Josh Adams passes to
replacement hooker Bradley Roberts who powers over for a seven pointer. Perhaps there is still some life in the Red Dragon.
Wales come within 13 points of the French with a journeyman-like effort that leads to a try by Tomos Williams.
Damian Penaud scores his second with three minutes to go, restoring France’s 20 point lead.
The match ends with a try by Rio Dyer to give Wales a bonus point which is of no value to anybody.
For a struggling Welsh side, it’s a positive outcome. In reality, it’s a one-sided contest won by a French team that blew hot and cold from start to finish.
France (5 tries) 41-28 (4 tries) Wales.
Pictured above: France celebrating a try against Wales
Image source: Six Nations