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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Wales win in Paris as France lose for second time in succession

Wales ended an eight-match losing streak with a hard fought 16-6 win over France in Paris on Saturday. The only try of the game was scored by George North from a perfectly placed Dan Biggar crosskick late in the contest.

Pre-tournament favourites France were expected to bounce back from their surprise defeat to Italy last weekend but coach Philippe Saint-Andre instead faces the reality of having lost their opening two matches in the Championship for the first time since 1982.

In an error-strewn match that could best be described as attritional, Wales won in Paris for just the fourth time since 1975, giving coach Rob Howley his first win in charge.

It was all square at halftime at 3-3, with the biggest talking point being the Stade de France pitch, but a superbly converted North try in the second half gave Wales the lead they needed.

Fullback Leigh Halpenny added to his earlier conversion with a superbly taken long distance penalty late in the game, which despite France's late surge, put Wales out of reach.

"Words cannot describe how much this means - what a fantastic feeling," said Halfpenny.

"The boys played unbelievably well. We dug deep to get this fantastic win - it's been a long time coming," added the nuggety fullback, who picked up the well deserved Man of the Match.

France now face the daunting prospect of away matches against England and Ireland as they hope to avoid the wooden spoon. "We are at the bottom of the Six Nations," Saint-Andre said.

"We were flying in November and at the moment it's very, very tough."

Posted at 1:37 pm | 12 comments

Posted in Six Nations 2013

Viewing 12 comments

marty February 10, 2013 7:06 pm

Ouch, what a blow for France. They were looking so good coming in this year's tournament

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Colombes February 11, 2013 12:07 am

what a dire game it was,
A friend invited me to go with him to the stadium, but i couldn't, and watching this spectacle, absolutely no regrets ;)

More seriously, this game respected the law of the 3 "shit"
>> shit pitch, shit teams, shit ref

Shit pitch: Stade de France had a new grass installed this week, and it seems really not adapted to rugby exigence, especially the scrum.

Shit teams: It was a match made for the defences as both teams were effective in this area, but i can't understand the lack of ambition of each side, like if they were playing with fear. Finally, wales had the last word on one their very rare attack in the 22, credit to them for having been lethal. France, in the other hand (despite some bastareaud and picamoles charges) really seemed without ideas and didn't transform their chances.

Shit ref: George Clancy appaling performance on every aspects of the match: abusing use of his whistle, gamble decisions on scrums, blindness on breakdown situations... this match should be shown in the IRB formations in the chapter: "what to avoid!"

To conclude on the abject perf of les bleus, everything should not be trashed. Like many, i don't share some St-andré tactics (fofana on the wing or michalak kicking duties) but i weirdly still believe in this team. My principal worry: the actual lack of fitness. no legs, no solutions. Up to Top14 clubs to decide what they want for french rugby: a champions league top14 or cooperate with the FFR and protect international players.

Now, the tournament is already lost. France doesn't have to fear Twickenham, far from that. Les bleus are in the same situation after the tonga rwc fail. In london, there will be certainly new heads and returns (clerc, buttin, tolofua, nyanga, gunther, medard, rougerie (?) and it will be more a question of pride than any tournament ambition.

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FelipeG February 11, 2013 10:56 am

Clearly, the ref was a serial whistler. This game was stopped every minute. Every scrum was replayed 4 times... Hard to say if it was always necessary. What I can say is that the whistle was heard more often than usual. Much more.
Even tough I like the french, I think they could have been penalized a couple of time for high tackles, in the beginning of the game. On the other hand, penalizing the french scrum was almost every time a wrong call from the ref. You could see that the welsh scrum was suffering. After 20minutes I said to my buddy "In the end, the welsh scrum will collapse and the bloody ref will understand where the problem comes from". Didn't happen so clearly, but in the second half the ref began to penalize Wales more often.

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ruckinmaul February 11, 2013 5:39 am

Really do think, Huget is not an international fullback. A few good games for Toulouse at the fullback and he has been chose as France fullback. He is a good winger, put him in a winger position. As for Fofana, everybody in this world want to see he play centre. Alongside Rougerie. Vincent Clerc need to be playing though. He is the second most tries in international rugby for France. Michalak lacks motivation and vision. I prefer Trinh-Duc or Skrela.
Parra, Trinh-Duc, Fofana, Rougerie, Clerc, Huget, Medard

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Ottawa Rugger February 11, 2013 6:18 am

Wales may have won, but play with that kind of energy (or lack thereof) again and they could well get beaten in Rome, not to mention against England or Scotland.

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FelipeG February 11, 2013 10:45 am

Agreed. They seemed even weaker than France, except for that try. What France lacked most in this game was a long range kicker. When you get a penalty and go for the line, you just cant accept a 15 meters kick. If that's the best you can do, just run with the ball! If you want to play 1914-18 kind of rugby, you need big guns.
But France looked really stronger as far as brute force is concerned. Still, this lack of ambition/inspiration is sad... Thank god Scotland was there to score tries this weekend! (what an unusual yet happy thing to say!)

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kadova February 12, 2013 12:16 am

I was freezing ion the stadium and we ended up bitterly disappointed. First time since 1982 that France have lost their first 2 matches of the Tournament.

Both teams were scared to death to lose the match.

The main issues for the French team are the players fitness, like every year, it's a kind of lottery, the level of fitness the players will have reached at the start of the Tournament, players not being given enough time to train together and gel. And this year players not playing at their positions. Most of the fans are furious against the coach for that one.

And it's now obvious the coaches were not able to motivate them enough for the match.

The only positive thing is they won't have anymore pressure for the next matches because they cannot win the Tournament anymore.

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the case February 12, 2013 6:22 am

wales needs to make room for lee byrne. cuthbert to the bench and byrne on the wing.


france needs fofana in the centers, perhaps alongside trinh-duc to spice things up a bit.

ideal france lineup:

forestier
szarzewski
mas
pape
maestri
dusautoir
harinordoquy
picamoles
parra
michalak
rougerie(11)
fofana
trinh-duc
clerc
medard

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marty February 12, 2013 11:46 pm

Really Trinh-Duc at 13???? Not so sure 'bout that. Bastareaud plays well and I still believe Clément Poitrenaud is a great shot a fullback, though I'm not aware if he indicated his international career was over or anything

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Frenchie February 13, 2013 1:29 am

The French improved their game against Wales, i dare say, just, but not enough. And overall France didn't play a good game, certainly not to the level they should be playing at.

They broke the defense a few times, mauled close t the try line but couldn't score: too many handling errors, and a very poor decision making. Huget fucked up a 2 against 1, he also seemed struggling under the pressure . He showed he's not a full back. Fall also kicked although we had a clear attacking line and an overlap.

Wales never doubted, never changed their game and it paid off. Well done to Wales! Not a great performance but a very important victory for them.

Saint Andre made several changes: Fofana will start (finally) at the centre alongside Bastareau i hope, Vincent Clerc is back on the wing, Nyanga is back replacing Ouedraogo.
First cap for Antonie Claassen , South African born, heard he's a strong runner.

I'd like to see Trinh Duc and Parra insead of Michalak/Macheneau.
Big question is what full back? We are missing one big time. And our second row is poor.

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FelipeG February 13, 2013 11:36 am

Good news overall. I wanted to see these 3 together Dusautoir Picamoles Nyanga :-) Ouedraogo is a good jumper and played well but still, Nyanga is Dark destroyer n°2.
Clerc back, Mermoz out, Fofana and Bastareaud center...good good. That's a lot of power. Well organized this team should be lethal. It must be!
Great need for a strong lock. Too much uncertainty there. Competition between players can be good, but at some point there can be only one General.

As full back...not a lot of solutions, OK Huget fucked up this 2v1, but I still think he made a decent job for the rest. So I guess it must be him again. Or Clerc as full back?

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Darcy Rugby Mad February 14, 2013 9:29 pm

George North one of Wales best players !!!

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