By Sarah Mockford at Millennium Stadium
The match in 30 seconds
Wales did to France what Ireland did to them in Dublin two weeks ago. They brought huge intensity at the breakdown and in defence, none more so than captain Sam Warburton, and prevented France getting any rhythm. George North crossed in the first half, Warburton stretched for the line in a scrappier second half and Leigh Halfpenny’s boot did the rest.
Wales – Tries: North, Warburton. Con: Halfpenny. Pens: Halfpenny 5.
France –Pens: Doussain, Plisson.
– Shaun Edwards paid tribute to the work Robin McBryde had done in defending against the maul, believing the forwards had negated a typical strength of the French game.
– Philippe Saint-André said: “Wales played well but they didn’t need to do much, just feed off our mistakes.” But he emphasised that France can still win the Six Nations.
– France made nearly twice as many carries as Wales – 118 to 61 – with Louis Picamoles topping the chart on 17. They also made 372 metres to Wales’ 188.
– France bust 26 tackles and made four line breaks but couldn’t score a try.
– Wales made nearly twice as many tackles as France – 116 to 69 – and Dan Lydiate made the most hits with 14.
– Wales’ scrum success rate was 56% while France’s was 33%, while they won eight turnovers to France’s six.
– More of the same for Wales – they need to match, if not better, the intensity shown here if they are to leave Twickenham victorious in a fortnight. They threw numbers at the breakdown, were extremely physical in defence and worked in unison.
– Jamie Roberts was at his best in getting over the gain-line and giving Wales momentum – that’s what will be needed against England. If he can find holes around the Owen Farrell-Billy Twelvetrees channel, he will give his outside backs decent opportunities.
– The scrum was the one area of concern, but on the better turf at Twickenham the front row should be able to get traction
– France were flat and vast improvements need to be made before they travel to Murrayfield. They weren’t able to adapt to Alain Rolland’s rulings at the contact area and grew tetchy – Louis Picamoles applauding the referee as he walked off having been sin-binned a prime example.
– They also need to make better use of their possession – more teamwork, less individual play.
RW’s proposed Wales XV v England: Leigh Halfpenny; Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North; Rhys Priestland, Rhys Webb; Gethin Jenkins, Richard Hibbard, Adam Jones, Luke Charteris, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton, Toby Faletau.
Davies has two more weeks to prove his fitness and his creativity in midfield will bring a different dimension to Wales’ game against England, while Alun Wyn Jones will be welcomed back if he recovers from his foot infection. If not, Jake Ball has shown he can step in. Webb retains the No 9 shirt after releasing Wales’ back-line with his quick service.
RW’s proposed France XV v Scotland: Brice Dulin; Yoann Huget, Gael Fickou, Wesley Fofana, Hugo Bonneval; Jules Plisson, Maxime Machenaud; Thomas Domingo, Dimitri Szarzewski, Nicolas Mas, Pascal Pape, Yoann Maestri, Yannick Nyanga, Wenceslas Lauret, Louis Picamoles.
Machenaud brought more pace to the French game when he replaced Jean-Marc Doussain so he gets the nod while Fickou deserves his chance in midfield after the uninspiring and one-dimensional performances of Mathieu Bastareaud. The pack get the chance to redeem themselves against Scotland.