France (17) 32
Tries: Taofifenua, Dupont, Ollivon, Dulin Cons: Jalibert 2, Ntamack Pens: Ntamack 2
Wales: (17) 30
Tries: Biggar, Navidi, Adams Cons: Biggar 3 Pens: Biggar 3

France inflicted Grand Slam heartbreak on Wales to keep alive their hopes of the Six Nations title.

Brice Dulin crossed in the final minute to clinch a bonus-point win and take the tournament to the final match next weekend, when they play Scotland.

Wales are five points clear at the top, but have now played their final game.

France were down to 14 men after 68 minutes when Paul Willemse was red carded but two Welsh yellows helped them erase a 10-point deficit to win.

Wales picked up a bonus point which means France can win if they defeat Scotland in Paris next Friday with an attacking bonus point.

It would then come down to points difference.

A fantastic first-half saw the two sides locked at 17-17 with Romain Taofifenua and Antoine Dupont’s tries matched by Dan Biggar and Josh Navidi scores.

The second-half was even more astonishing with France second-row Paul Willemse red carded for touching the eyes of Wales prop Wyn Jones.

But France finished with the man advantage for the final eight minutes after Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams were sin-binned.

Wales were defending a 10-point advantage, but tries from captain Charles Ollivon and Dulin’s late intervention left Wayne Pivac’s side stunned.

It means the final game of the tournament between France and Scotland on Friday in Paris will decide the destination of the Six Nations title with Wales just having to wait on the outcome.

That game was due to take place in February, but was postponed because of a Covid-19 outbreak in the French camp.

It was particularly cruel for Wales, who have turned things around in fine fashion under Pivac after the New Zealander had only won three out of 10 games in his first season in charge.

Wales had arrived in Paris with four victories and the Triple Crown in their possession.

They fielded a starting side containing 987 caps, their most experienced in history and 14 of the players had already won a Grand Slam under Pivac’s predecessor Warren Gatland.

France were never going to roll over though. Team manager Raphael Ibanez stated his side were glad to have returned to Paris and this was epitomised by the hosts’ ferocious start.

Prop Cyril Baille was driven over the Wales line, but scrum-half Gareth Davies managed to deny the try. This only delayed events when Taofifenua crossed and Matthieu Jalibert converted.

Wales responded immediately with a brilliant up-and-under and catch from full-back Williams, laying the foundations for the attacking scrum from which Gareth Davies and Louis Rees-Zammit exchanged passes from a clever set move.

Scrum-half Davies was tackled brilliantly over the line by Ollivon to deny a try, but Wales remained patient as they scored their record 18th try in the tournament.

Biggar crashed over following a clever angle, with the fly-half also converting.

French flair flourished when Dulin’s chip was collected by Jalibert, who released the imperious supporting Dupont for the second score.

The stunning start continued when Wales retaliated with flanker Navidi burrowing over after relentless attack from the visitors to level the scores after a frantic first quarter.

The visitors’ ability to retain possession in attack was rewarded when a France transgression allowed Biggar to slot over a penalty.

Jalibert was forced off with a head injury to be replaced by Romain Ntamack, whose first contribution was to level the scores at 17-17 on the stroke of half-time to complete a fantastic first 40 minutes.

Biggar extended the lead with a penalty before replacement scrum-half Tomos Williams was immediately involved in Wales’ third try.

After a clever chip from Justin Tipuric, Adams skilfully hacked on before Williams gathered to release Adams and the Wales wing crossed.

Referee Luke Pearce gave an on-field try decision and television match official Wayne Barnes insisted he could not overrule that after deeming there was no Williams’ knock-on and Adams had grounded the ball.

Biggar’s conversion opened up a 10-point advantage before Ntamack reduced the deficit with his second penalty.

Rees-Zammit almost scored a spectacular try in the corner, but Barnes deemed it was grounded on the base of the corner flag so the effort was ruled out.

Prop Mohamed Haouas had collapsed a driving maul in the build-up and was yellow-carded with Biggar slotting over three points.

TMO Barnes was a busy man. First he was called on again with France hooker Julian Marchand held up by the defensive efforts of Adams, Tomos Williams, Navidi and Faletau.

Then after Dulin had appeared to cross for France’s third try, Barnes alerted referee Pearce to foul play by Willemse on Wales prop Jones. The replays showed the France lock had made contact with Jones’ eyes after a ruck clear-out to earn his red card.

France refused to submit and the chaos continued with Faletau and Williams yellow-carded as the hosts held a one-man man advantage going into the final eight minutes.

Ollivon crossed with four minutes remaining which Ntamack converted to reduce the deficit to three points.

Wales fans were desperately hoping their side could hold on, but after the visitors conceded a penalty in the final minute, Dulin eventually broke the hearts of a nation.

Now Wales must wait six days to see if they will still be crowned Six Nations winners with Pivac’s side having a points difference advantage of 20 points over France.

In the immediate aftermath of a tumultuous encounter in Paris, that was of scant consolation to Wales and their fans.

Man-of-the-Match: Brice Dulin

Brice Dulin
There were some monumental performances from Wales’ defeated heroes but France match-winner Brice Dulin proved his worth with the final try

Line-ups

France: Dulin; Thomas, Vakatawa, Fickou, Penaud; Jalibert, Dupont; Baille, Marchand, Haouas, Taofifenua, Willemse, Cretin, Ollivon (capt), Alldritt.

Replacements: Chat for Marchand (69), Gros for Baille (59), Atonio for Alldrit (60-70), Rebbadj for Taofifenua (22), Jelonch for Cretin (51), Serin, Ntamack for Jalibert (30), Vincent for Thomas (57), Serin for Dupont (74).

Wales: L Williams; Rees-Zammit, North, J Davies, Adams; Biggar, G Davies; W Jones, Owens, Francis, Beard, AW Jones (capt), Navidi, Tipuric, Faletau.

Replacements: Dee for Owens (68), Smith for W Jones (77), Brown for Francis (68), Hill for Beard (57), Botham for Navidi (77), T Williams for G Davies (49), Sheedy for Biggar (68), Halaholo for J Davies (68).

Match officials

Referee: Luke Pearce (England)

Touch judges: Matthew Carley (England) and Christophe Ridley (England)

TMO: Wayne Barnes (England)



Source link BBC NEWS UK

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