Wales crush France to keep title hopes alive

REX GOWAR
Last updated 11:21 22/02/2014
George North
Reuters
BACK ON TRACK: Wales crushed France 27-6 at the Millennium Stadium to keep alive their dream of a third successive Six Nations title.

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Wales ran in two tries as they crushed France 27-6 at the Millennium Stadium on Friday to keep alive their dream of a third successive Six Nations title.

Centre George North scored a first half try and captain Sam Warburton added a second near the end with fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicking 17 points.

France, previously unbeaten after wins over England and Italy, were second best all night to a dominant Welsh pack who put behind them the 26-3 loss to Ireland in Dublin two weeks ago.

France's only replies came from penalties kicked by scrumhalf Jean-Marc Doussain and flyhalf Jules Plisson with the home defence frustrating their every effort at running the ball.

The result leaves Wales, France and Ireland all on four points before the unbeaten Irish face England at Twickenham on Saturday looking to win the Triple Crown and take the sole lead in the championship.

North scored the opening try after five minutes and the Welsh were 11-0 up after 10 following two penalties from Halfpenny, leaving the French reeling.

In a Welsh attack down the left, the ball came to Halfpenny out on the wing who spotted a gap in the stretched defence and kicked ahead.

North chased and touched down when France fullback Brice Dulin, who appeared to have the ball under control, let it slip from his grasp on the line.

France wing Yoann Huget crossed over on the right in a rare French attack after 14 minutes but the try was disallowed for a knock on by captain Pascal Pape in the build up.

The sides changed ends with Wales, who can still achieve an unprecedented third successive outright title, leading 20-6.

A prop from each side, man of the match Gethin Jenkins and France's Nicolas Mas, was sent to the sin bin 10 minutes into the second half when a scrum collapsed after the packs had received warnings from Irish referee Alain Rolland.

France number eight Louis Picamoles was also yellow carded just past the hour for an infringement in a maul when the French could ill afford to be a man short.

A minute later Wales scored their second try when back row forward Warburton burst through a tiring defence and just managed to touch the ball down on the line with Halfpenny managing his only conversion.

"It was a good performance, not one of the best because there were still a few errors, but we fronted up after what happened in Ireland and a few people looked themselves in the mirror," Wales centre Jamie Roberts told BBC Sport.

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"We put ourselves under a lot of pressure. The standards we have set ourselves, we expected more in Ireland...We knew if we turned up and played with the right style we could turn over France. You have to give the pack great credit after what happened in Dublin."

- Reuters

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