28 Feb 2009

France beat Wales in 6-Nations

2:27 pm on 28 February 2009

A try apiece by flanker Thierry Dusautoir and winger Cedric Heymans and three penalties from scrumhalf Morgan Parra have given France a 21-16 Six Nations victory over Wales at the Stade de France.

Looking for a second successive Grand Slam, Wales led for most of the first half after fullback Lee Byrne sped over for a try which flyhalf Stephen Jones converted to add to a penalty he scored after just two minutes.

But France fought back, with stand-in kicker Parra scoring a penalty and adding a conversion when Dusautoir profited from a surging run by Imanol Harinordoquy to power over the line just before the break.

Roared on by the crowd, the Blues came out strongly after halftime, running powerfully and straight at Wales, and Heymans capped off a surging move with a try that was referred to the video referee before being confirmed.

Wales nearly got back into the match, launching waves of attacks on the French line with just minutes to go, but they were held out by a desperate but disciplined defence in the first Friday evening match ever played in the Six Nations.

France coach Marc Lievremont gambled by going into the game without a recognised goal kicker or fly-half and declared he would be labelled a genius or an idiot depending on the outcome.

Ferocious but controlled tackling by Dusautoir, debutant centre Mathieu Bastareaud and others in the French side kept Wales on the back foot through the second half.

France, after a loss to Ireland and a lacklustre performance against Scotland, had been all but written off but they proved the doubters wrong with a plucky performance in front of the delighted home crowd to end Wales's Grand Slam dream.