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Comedy-of-errors North try settles dour win for Wales over awful France

With the roof stuck open, neither side provided much for the crowd to warm to.

Wales 19

France 10

DAN BIGGAR BOOTED over 14 points to help steer Wales to victory over France to take the lead in the Six Nations championship table.

Dan Biggar kicks the opening penalty Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Warren Gatland’s team were held to a 16-all draw by Ireland before seeing off Scotland 27-23 in their opening two matches, but dominated a France side also coming into the Cardiff game undefeated after wins over Italy (23-21) and Ireland (10-9).

The win was Wales’ fifth in succession over France, for whom defeat was a fifth straight in Cardiff’s Principality Stadium.

Returning to the scene of their humiliation at the hands of New Zealand in the World Cup quarter-final, France looked toothless against a well-marshalled Wales team which crucially prevented Les Bleus from scoring in a sustained 12-minute period of second-half pressure.

Biggar kicked four penalties, two in each half, and converted George North’s second-half breakaway try.

France fly-half Jules Plisson kicked a penalty, with skipper Guilhem Guirado driven over for a consolation try converted by Francois Trinh-Duc to give the scoreline a more sympathetic glean.

George North kicks on before scoring the first try Source: Andrew Fosker/INPHO

Wales were also left ruing the lack of a cutting edge, dominating first-half possession and territory but failing to convert pressure into points.

Plisson’s shaky start was compounded when he booted a free-kick directly into touch, handing Wales an attacking line-out. France were penalised at a resulting ruck, but Biggar skewed the penalty. Plisson then missed a penalty of his own after Rob Evans, everywhere in the loose, was penalised for collapsing a scrum.

France paid, however, after lock Paul Jedrasiak put in a late shoulder charge on Taulupe Faletau, Biggar finally getting the scoreboard ticking.

After a huge hit by Sam Warburton saw opposite number Antoine Burban taken from the field, Plisson was caught holding on to hand Biggar a second penalty effort he made no mistake with.

France came firing back, scrum-half Maxime Machenaud linking with Fiji-born winger Virimi Vakatawa before Liam Willams and Warburton came up with crucial tackles.

Dan Lydiate, however, was penalised for a no-arms tackle, Plisson scoring France’s first three points.

Maxime Medard’s boot prevented Wales’ first try after a moment of brilliance by Gareth Davies. The Welsh scrum-half broke clear of the cover and maybe should have passed with an overlap on.

As it was he put in a grubber to the corner, Vakatawa missing the bounce but Medard just getting a toe to the ball as Liam Williams pounced.

Biggar resumed hostilities with a third penalty early in the second period after Jonathan Danty upended Alex Cuthbert.

Wales finally made their pressure pay through North.

Source: RBS 6 Nations/YouTube

The Northampton winger had a stroke of luck after failing to tap on a ball expertly kicked through by Jonathan Davies, but Plisson inadvertently nudged it into North’s path for an easy pick-up to glide over for a welcome try converted by Biggar.

France then enjoyed their most sustained period of pressure, lasting 12 minutes, but came away with nothing.

Wales, led magnificently in defence by Warburton, foiled a series of attacking line-outs, held firm at the scrum and snuffed out a promising cross-kick that saw Medard go close.

Biggar kicked his fourth penalty to stretch the home side’s lead to 19-3 after replacement prop Vincent Pelo collapsed a scrum.

France had the last laugh as Guirado was driven over, Trinh-Duc converting.

Scorers

Wales

Try: North

Conversion: Biggar

Penalties – Biggar (4)

France

Try: Guirado

Conversion: Trinh-Duc

Penalty: Plisson

Wales: Liam Williams (Gareth Anscombe 74); Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Dan Biggar (Rhys Priestland 71), Gareth Davies (Lloyd Williams 78); Taulupe Faletau, Sam Warburton (capt), Dan Lydiate (Justin Tipuric 78); Alun Wyn Jones (Jake Ball 78), Bradley Davies; Samson Lee (Tomas Francis 66), Scott Baldwin (Ken Owens 66), Rob Evans (Gethin Jenkins 56)

France: Maxime Medard; Vrimi Vakatawa, Maxime Mermoz (Gael Fickou 66), Jonathan Danty, Djbril Camara; Jules Plisson (Francois Trinh-Duc 63), Maxime Machenaud (Sebastien Bezy 71); Damien Chouly (Camille Chat 63), Antoine Burban (Loann Goujon 30-36, 53), Wencelsas Lauret; Alexandre Flanquart, Paul Jedrasiak (Yoann Maestri 44); Rabah Slimani (Uini Atonio 63), Guilhem Guirado (capt), Jefferson Poirot (Vincent Pelo 63)

Referee: Wayne Barnes (ENG)

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