Dragons defence holds firm as North-facing Wales beat France
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | February 26, 2016
Wales 19-10 France
- Biggar and Plisson miss initial penalties
- Two successful kicks from Welsh fly half establishes 6-3 half-time lead
- Home winger North grabs crosses for opener five minutes after restart
- French try attempts thwarted by Dragons defence until late on
- Unbeaten run under Noves ends, despite Guirado consolation at death
Dragons’ den proves too tough a Test for Les Bleus
Wales put an end to France’s 100 per cent start to the 2016 Six Nations, thanks to an outstanding defensive display and George North crossing for a third try against this opposition during a 19-10 win in Cardiff.
Playing for penalties against a physical Les Bleus outfit with a penchant for giving them away, Warren Gatland’s Dragons were kicked into a 6-3 half-time lead by the boot of Dan Biggar.
It might’ve been more had a trademark Gareth Davies burst from scrum half found full back Liam Williams, but Maxime Meddard’s clearing kick denied the hosts.
Jules Plisson also had the visitors on the board when the eagle-eyed TMO spotted Dan Lydiate had failed to use his arms in a tackle.
North needs two bites but bags opening try
Guy Noves saw French nemesis North was not to be denied, however, as he gathered Jonathan Davies’ chip through at the second attempt and went over the tryline five minutes into the second-half.
Converted by Biggar, who also struck two more penalties over the posts, a large Welsh advantage forced Les Bleus to come out and play. No winning ugly for Noves here – away from home comforts in Paris.
Outstanding defensive work from Gatland’s charges thwarted multiple French attempts to get back into the contest, however. Meddard was notably bundled into touch by Dragons forwards when aiming to cross in the corner.
Enduring around 20 minutes of concerted Les Bleus pressure, including two try chances being held up, the likes of Alan Wyn Jones, home captain Sam Warburton and number eight Toby Faletau proved key in weathering the storm.
Noves defeated by hosts’ defence
Not even France’s replacements, which included the returning Francois Trinh-Duc and Gael Fickou, could muster a response until it was too late.
Les Bleus skipper and hooker Guilhem Guirado performed admirably and crossed for a very late consolation, converted by Trinh-Duc, but Noves knows his team must regroup.
Gatland takes his unbeaten Dragons – two wins and a draw now – on to Twickenham, but has seen Coral cut Wales’ odds of winning the Six Nations into 11/8 from 2/1.