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Wales win Six Nations Grand Slam

Date

Luke Phillips

WALES 16 FRANCE 9

Alex Cuthbert of Wales slides over to score the only try against France.

Alex Cuthbert of Wales slides over to score the only try against France. Photo: Getty Images

CARDIFF: Wales claimed their third Six Nations Grand Slam in eight years when they beat World Cup finalists France 16-9 at the Millennium Stadium here on Saturday.

The Welsh side, marshalled magnificently by fly-half Rhys Priestland and indefatigable flanker Dan Lydiate, produced a nervous display but still managed to dominate a conservative France team that relied heavily on a kicking game.

The victory, following successes over Ireland (23-21), Scotland (27-13), England (19-12) and Italy (24-3), was sweet revenge for the heart-breaking one-point loss Wales suffered against Les Bleus in the World Cup semi-final.

Wales captain Sam Warburton lifts the Six Nations trophy.

Wales captain Sam Warburton lifts the Six Nations trophy. Photo: Getty Images

A stunning solo try by winger Alex Cuthbert, allied with three penalties and a conversion by Leigh Halfpenny were enough to see off a French side that scored three penalties through Dimitri Yachvili (2) and Lionel Beauxis.

"This makes all the sacrifices worth while," said Wales skipper Sam Warburton, who was sent-off in last year's World Cup semi-final defeat.

"You have to give credit to the French. They made it difficult for us to get our game going. But we won and that's what counts."

Wales players celebrate their victory and Grand Slam with the Six Nations trophy. Click for more photos

Wales grand slam champions of Europe

Wales avenge their World Cup semi-final loss to France by claiming the grand slam in front of their home crowd. Photo: AFP

Man of the match Lydiate was overjoyed by the victory.

"It's a very young team and this was their first chance to win anything. To do it at home in the last match in the Six Nations, what could be better?," said the flanker.

"The crowd were our 16th man, thank you all for turning up. Mervyn Davies (who died on Friday) was a legend of the game and our thoughts go out to his family at this time."

Wales mounted the early pressure, Jonathan Davies cut down by Wesley Fofana in the corner, but it was France who got on the scoreboard first, Yachvili kicking an easy penalty in the 11th minute after Gethin Jenkins infringed at a ruck.

Priestland was the surprise first-up kicker for Wales, with Halfpenny having been preferred earlier in the tournament, but his first effort came back off the post.

A slick lineout move saw Yachvili set up hooker William Servat for a charge at the line, but a fine covering tackle by George North cut the Toulouse veteran down.

When Alun Wyn Jones turned over Thierry Dusautoir in midfield, Wales recycled the ball quickly, Priestland finding Cuthbert out wide.

The 21-year-old winger then produced two scintillating side-steps to leave the French cover for dead and go in under the posts for a superb five-pointer that Halfpenny converted.

Halfpenny increased Wales' lead with a penalty after Jonathan Davies tackled Beauxis man-and-ball, hacked ahead and Alexis Palisson held on too long while covering.

The Welsh fullback saw his second penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time come back off the upright, with the home side dominating both territory and possession.

Warburton came off at half-time with a shoulder injury, and France seized the early momentum in the second period.

Replacement fullback Jean-Marcellin Buttin chipped over the home defence but while Jenkins was on hand to snaffle the ball, there was a ruck infringement and Beauxis kicked a penalty to cut Wales' lead to four.

Beauxis missed a drop-goal a minute later but France looked a different side when they opted to run the ball.

Halfpenny made no error, however, with a 52-metre penalty in the 53rd minute.

Wales were almost caught out when Beauxis spotted Buttin alone on the wing. Spurning a kick at goal, the fly-half sent out a pinpoint kick to the strapping back, who was just hauled down before the line by man-of-the-match Lydiate.

Yachvili kicked a 73rd minute penalty after the Welsh scrum collapsed to set up a nerve-wracking final five minutes.

Francois Trinh-Duc then foolishly threw the ball into the crowd when tackled into touch, South African referee Craig Joubert left no alternative but to hand the increasingly influential Halfpenny another penalty, which he knocked over.

Wales saw out the final remaining minutes to claim an 11th Grand Slam title.

WALES 16 (Alex Cuthbert try; Leigh Halfpenny con; Halfpenny 3 pens) def FRANCE 9 (Dimitri Yachvili 2, Lionel Beauxis pen)

AFP

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BRU 0vs HUR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
Sunw 0vs LIO 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
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FOR 0vs REB 0 21:50nib Stadium
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STO 0vs BUL 0 02:05DHL Newlands
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CRU 0vs BLU 0 17:35AMI
BRU 0vs WAR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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CHF 0vs LIO 0 15:15FMG Stadium Waikato
HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
RED 0vs FOR 0 19:40SS
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BUL 0vs REB 0 00:00Loftu
CHT 0vs STO 0 02:05FSS
SHA 0vs Jagu 0 04:10GpKP
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Round 3
Fri, 11 MarTimes shown AEDT
BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
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HIG 0vs LIO 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
Sunw 0vs CHT 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
Sun, 13 MarTimes shown AEDT
King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
STO 0vs SHA 0 02:05DHL Newlands
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Round 4
Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
WAR 0vs HIG 0 19:40AS
Sat, 19 MarTimes shown AEDT
BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
LIO 0vs CHT 0 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO 0vs BRU 0 04:10DHL Newlands
Jagu 0vs CHF 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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Round 5
Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 0vs King 0 17:35WS
Sat, 26 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHF 0vs FOR 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
Sunw 0vs BUL 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
Sun, 27 MarTimes shown AEDT
CHT 0vs BRU 0 00:00FSS
SHA 0vs CRU 0 02:05GpKP
Jagu 0vs STO 0 09:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
RED 0vs WAR 0 16:05SS
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Fri, 01 AprTimes shown AEDT
HIG 0vs FOR 0 17:35FBS
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LIO 0vs CRU 0 04:00Emirates Airlines Park
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BUL 0vs CHT 0 03:10Loftu
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Fri, 08 AprTimes shown AEST
CHF 0vs BLU 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
FOR 0vs CRU 0 21:00nib Stadium
Sat, 09 AprTimes shown AEST
STO 0vs Sunw 0 03:00DHL Newlands
HUR 0vs Jagu 0 17:35WS
RED 0vs HIG 0 19:40SS
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SHA 0vs LIO 0 01:05GpKP
King 0vs BUL 0 03:10NMBS
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Round 8
Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs Jagu 0 17:35AMI
REB 0vs HUR 0 19:40AAMI
Sat, 16 AprTimes shown AEST
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BLU 0vs SHA 0 17:35EP
WAR 0vs BRU 0 19:40AS
Sun, 17 AprTimes shown AEST
BUL 0vs RED 0 01:05Loftu
LIO 0vs STO 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Fri, 22 AprTimes shown AEST
HIG 0vs SHA 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs CHT 0 19:40AAMI
Sat, 23 AprTimes shown AEST
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HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
STO 0vs RED 0 23:00DHL Newlands
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
King 0vs LIO 0 01:05NMBS
BRU 0vs CRU 0 16:05GIO Stadium
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Fri, 29 AprTimes shown AEST
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Sat, 30 AprTimes shown AEST
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RED 0vs CHT 0 19:40SS
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LIO 0vs HUR 0 01:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO 0vs WAR 0 03:10DHL Newlands
Jagu 0vs King 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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Fri, 06 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs RED 0 17:35AMI
BRU 0vs BUL 0 19:40GIO Stadium
Sat, 07 MayTimes shown AEST
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CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
WAR 0vs CHT 0 19:40AS
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Sun, 08 MayTimes shown AEST
King 0vs BLU 0 01:05NMBS
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Round 12
Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 0vs CRU 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs BRU 0 19:40AAMI
Sat, 14 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 0vs RED 0 17:35WS
WAR 0vs BUL 0 19:40AS
Sunw 0vs STO 0 21:45Singapore National Stadium
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CHT 0vs King 0 01:05FSS
LIO 0vs BLU 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
Jagu 0vs SHA 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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Round 13
Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs WAR 0 17:35AMI
Sat, 21 MayTimes shown AEST
RED 0vs Sunw 0 15:05SS
CHF 0vs REB 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
LIO 0vs Jagu 0 23:00Emirates Airlines Park
Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
SHA 0vs King 0 01:05GpKP
BUL 0vs STO 0 03:10Loftu
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Round 14
Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 0vs HIG 0 17:35WS
WAR 0vs CHF 0 19:40AS
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
King 0vs Jagu 0 03:00NMBS
BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
STO 0vs CHT 0 23:00DHL Newlands
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BUL 0vs LIO 0 01:05Loftu
REB 0vs FOR 0 16:05AAMI
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Fri, 01 JulTimes shown AEST
CHF 0vs CRU 0 17:35ANZ National Stadium, Suva
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HUR 0vs BLU 0 17:35WS
REB 0vs STO 0 19:40AAMI
CHT 0vs FOR 0 23:00FSS
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King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
Jagu 0vs BUL 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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BLU 0vs BRU 0 17:35EP
RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
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LIO 0vs King 0 03:00Emirates Airlines Park
CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
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BUL 0vs Sunw 0 01:05Loftu
SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
Jagu 0vs HIG 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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Fri, 15 JulTimes shown AEST
BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
Sat, 16 JulTimes shown AEST
SHA 0vs Sunw 0 03:00GpKP
CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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STO 0vs King 0 01:05DHL Newlands
CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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Fri, 22 JulTimes shown AEST
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