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Wales snap losing streak as France suffers worst start in 31 years

Date

Pirate Irwin

FRANCE 6 WALES 16

Wales winger George North scores the only as Wales snap an eight-game losing streak with victory over France.

Wales winger George North scores the only as Wales snap an eight-game losing streak with victory over France. Photo: AP

Wales ended an eight-match losing streak with a 16-6 victory over France in their Six Nations clash at the Stade de France on Saturday.

A try by winger George North - his 12th for his country - late in the second-half gave the visitors the breathing space they needed to record only their fourth win in Paris since 1975.

For a woeful France side it was the first time since 1982 they had lost their opening two matches and coach Philippe Saint-Andre is left with a massive job to rebuild morale with a trip to England in a fortnight.

France's Dimitri Szarzewski (L) and Louis Picamoles tackle Wales' Mike Phillips. Click for more photos

Wales defeat listless France

France suffer worst start in Six Nations in 31 years as Wales claim victory in Paris. Photo: Reuters

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

"The boys played unbelievably well. We dug deep to get this fantastic win - it's been a long time coming."

Saint-Andre admitted France will need to dig deep in their next match, against old enemy England at Twickenham in two weeks' time.

"We can no longer win the Six Nations, but we can win respect," he said.

The opening 10 minutes saw Wales camped in the French half, but ruining any incisive move with a forward pass or a knock-on, while Dan Biggar's drop goal attempt fell well short.

The French struck with their first scoring opportunity when referee George Clancy penalised Wales for collapsing the scrum and Frederic Michalak kicked the penalty.

However, they were all square soon afterwards as France fell foul of Clancy and Halfpenny slotted over the penalty.

Wales were playing with much more discipline and purpose than in the first-half of their defeat against the Irish last week - when they conceded 23 points - but they could not breach the French defence with fullback Yoann Huget dealing with everything thrown at him.

A distinctly mediocre first-half - not aided by a pitch that cut up badly - ended 3-3 with the players exiting to a chorus of booing from spectators braving freezing temperatures in the French capital.

The Welsh took the lead early in the second-half when Halfpenny kicked a penalty after a storming run by scrum-half Mike Phillips got his team deep into French territory.

The hosts missed a golden opportunity to draw level immediately afterwards when Francois Trinh-Duc, who came on at half-time for Benjamin Fall, sent a relatively easy drop goal wide.

They did get back on equal terms in the 53rd minute when Michalak converted a penalty after Wales collapsed the scrum.

Saint-Andre rang the changes completely at this point replacing his entire front row and taking off the ineffective Maxime Machenaud at scrum-half and sending on Morgan Parra.

The Welsh pinned the French back in their half but again failed to press home their territorial advantage as North, bursting in from the wing into midfield, knocked on from the simplest of passes.

The errors kept on piling up and the paucity of quality play was summed up when Michalak, with time to think, passed the ball not into Huget's arms but into his face allowing the Welsh to recover the ball.

Wales took full advantage from the ensuing passage of play.

Biggar kicked behind the defence and the ball bounced kindly for North who, despite being tackled by Tinrh-Duc, was able to touch down before his foot went into touch.

Halfpenny landed a superb conversion to make it 13-6 and added a penalty shortly after to rub salt into French wounds.

WALES 16 (George North try; Leigh Halfpenny con, 3 pens) bt FRANCE 6 (Frederic Michalak 2 pens)

AFP

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