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Dulin's late try breaks Welsh hearts and kills their Grand Slam dream

France lock Paul Willemse is red carded but Brice Dulin scores at the death to seal two-point win for Les Bleus.

Image: Laszlo Geczo/INPHO

France 32

Wales 30

THIS WAS CRUEL. A Brice Dulin try, deep into stoppage time, gave France a victory that looked beyond them and left Wales wondering if they will ever endure any defeat as heartbreaking as this.

They have rode their luck in this tournament, benefiting from red cards to Peter O’Mahony in the Ireland game, Zander Fagerson in the Scottish one and then some bizarre refereeing decisions against England.

Another favour went their way this evening, Josh Adams awarded a try in the early stages of the second half when it looked as if he had been held up.

They were 30-20 up with four minutes to go but tries from Charles Ollivon on 76 minutes and Dulin on 82 ended that dream. The Welsh players were distraught at the final whistle. To think they were considered wooden spoon contenders at the start of this championship.

There is so much to admire about how they go about their business.

Their spirit is unbreakable. Even here, they went 7-0 down in seven minutes, then 14-7 behind, but they came back each time, got their runners over the gainline, got scores when they needed them.

France struck first on seven minutes, Romain Taofifenua storming across the line, Jalibert converting to give France a 7-0 lead.

Six minutes later, Wales were level, Dan Biggar getting the better of bigger men to score, a kind of latter day Brian O’Driscoll type score, a back impersonating a back row forward.

louis-rees-zammit-scores-a-try-that-is-later-disallowed Rees-Zammit's try was ruled out. Source: Dave Winter/INPHO

Two minutes after that, Dulin kicked forward, Jalibert collected it, Antoine Dupont  ran a support line and scored. So 15 minutes played, France 14-7 Wales.

By 20 minutes, it was 14-14, Biggar carrying well, the pack contributing more yards, then Josh Navidi scored.

Penalties were exchanged between N’Tamack and Biggar before half time – Biggar made it 20-17 just after half-time.

Then came the first real contentious moment, Adams squeezing over the line on 49 minutes, referee Luke Pearce stating he had touched the ball down; TMO, Wayne Barnes, unable to find any clear evidence that he hadn’t. Wales had a try, Biggar converted. Wales were looking good.

They did have some misfortune. Louis Rees-Zammit came close to a try, putting the ball in touch just prior to grounding it. Biggar kicked the penalty; N’Tamack got one of his own, ten points separated the sides.

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Ten minutes from time it looked as though France had scored their third try but in the build up to it, Paul Willemse had committed a foul, making contact with the eye area of Wyn Jones.

France were dominant at this stage. Ollivon was held up on 70 minutes; Wales losing two men to the bin – Liam Williams and Taulupe Faletau – in quick succession.

Then after sustained pressure Ollivon finally got across, N’Tamack getting the conversion, the score now 30-27 to Wales, three minutes left on the clock.

Wales managed to regain possession on 79 minutes but couldn’t retain it. France did, forcing 13 man Wales to stretch their defence. Eventually space opened up for Dulin on the left wing and France had their fourth try, the victory. And Wales had the toughest conclusion to a championship that is imaginable.

 

 

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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