Another of those Friday fixtures which they're experimenting with in the six nations (the only one this year). I'm not a great fan of this idea, it has to be said, as the day ensures that many travelling fans simply cannot attend in person. Of course, the powers that be will still get the bums on the seats from the folks who can get the time off work at will, and the TV companies like it - so Friday it is. For the national anthems, France wore red, and Wales blue - but it was soon off with the jackets and the teams were in their customary colours.
The first score of the match came from an interception, a shockingly telegraphed pass was intercepted by Alexis Palisson who ran and had a clear try. Parra kicked to bring the score to 0-7.
After 20 minutes, a penalty made the score 0-10, and another about 5 minutes later took the score to 0-13.
Wales didn't put a lot of pressure on, but there was a nice piece of work from Shane Williams (if I recall) - from a lineout, he snuck through with the ball and the French only just managed to stop him.
And then, at the end of the first half, another interception. Trinh-duc took the ball and scored for France. 0-18, then 0-20. Going into half time, the Welsh were not looking in good shape.
After half time, France conceded a penalty, and Wales opted to take the points. Stephen Jones kicked for three points. Three minutes later and another penalty. Another three points. It was 6-20 in favour of France. Wales appeared revitalised at this point, and France began to look threatened. Wales had half an hour left at this point to capitalise.
For a while it looked as if Wales had lost momentum again, but in the 62nd minute there was an excellent sequence of play, resulting in Shane Williams passing to Halfpenny (following an offence from Parra for which he got a yellow card and the referee played advantage). The Welsh came to within a converted try of equalising, with a score of 13-20.
In the 68th minute there was a superb Welsh break, which the French did well to stamp out. It seemed like this was now a different Welsh team facing the French. With just over ten minutes to go, the game could go either way, and Wales had the momentum.
In the 70th minute, Michalak kicked a penalty, apparently putting France clear and dry on a score of 13-23 and the penalty kick from Parra taking things to 13-26 seemed (and proved) to be the nail in the coffin of Wales.
However, there was some last-minute footwork from Shane Williams - skipping over a French player and dodging in to score a try. The conversion took the score to 20-26. It looked like Wales could make a last moment save, if they could restart the game, and if they held on to the ball.
With these circumstances, the conversion was very slow, and though France had to restart, they were able to kick straight to touch. They did the sensible thing, and the final score was 20-26. France is still on course for the Grand Slam.
|Table Built: Friday, 26 February 2010 21:50 UK|
Tomorrow, we will have Italy vs. Scotland and England vs. Ireland.