The XV of France ended the Six Nations Tournament with a victory against Wales (41-28), Saturday March 18 at the Stade de France, but can only hope to retain their title in the event of a severe defeat of Ireland which faces England in Dublin with the possibility of securing the fourth grand slam in its history.
Anxious not to experience the same misfortune as the English felled by a French try after two minutes last week at Twickenham, the Welsh began their match with fervor, immediately putting pressure on the French 22 meters, before score, from the 8th minute, with a first try from George North immediately converted by Dan Biggar.
Stung, the French replied immediately with a long run from Romain Ntamack through the Welsh lines, finally supported by Antoine Dupont who returned to Damian Penaud to flatten in a corner. Thomas Ramos transforms with a nice kick from the edge of the sideline.
20 to 7 at halftime
The pace set by Wales seemed to make the French doubt for the first twenty minutes, before they pulled themselves together and corrected their mistakes. French dominance in the scrum then pushed the Welsh into error, two penalties scored by Ramos in the 26th and 30th minutes allowing France to start taking the field.
Faced with a suddenly disorganized Leek XV, the twirling trio Ntamack-Dupont-Ramos then brought the Blues closer to the Welsh goal line before Jonathan Danty, served by Penaud, flattened in a corner in the 34th minute. Despite the difficulty, Ramos converted the try. At halftime, France was leading 20-7.
On the restart, dynamic Frenchmen quickly find a scrum in the Welsh 22 meters. Dupont escapes before the ball falls to the Franco-New Zealander Uini Antonio flattens in the 44th minute in the in-goal his first try in blue. Ruled like a metronome, Ramos transforms once again.
Ramos, flawless from start to finish
In full doubt, the Welsh then multiplied the spaces, allowing from the 49th minute Gaël Fikou to interfere to score a new try, again transformed by Ramos who then became the best scorer of the Blues in an edition of the Six Nations Tournament .
The Welsh reacted nevertheless with dangerous attacks in the blue line rewarded by a try from Bradley Roberts in the 56th minute, then another from Tomos Williams in the 66th minute, both transformed by Biggar.
The French regained their dominance at the end of the match, succeeding, despite a heroic defense from the Welsh in their last meters, in passing a second try from Penaud in the 77th minute. Ramos, flawless from start to finish, converts a fifth time.
The XV of France is no longer master of its destiny
Last reaction of Welsh pride, Rio Dyer escapes to the line the French goal line at the last minute, allowing the XV of the leek to also snatch the offensive bonus. Leigh Halfpenny transforms.
Despite a slightly more messy performance in the second period, France therefore won their last official match before France-New Zealand which, on September 8, still at the Stade de France, will mark the opening of the World Cup. . Thanks to the offensive bonus, she also virtually takes the lead in the tournament.
The XV of France is however not master of its destiny and can only hope to retain its title from last year on the condition that the Irish bow to England without obtaining the defensive bonus. However, big favorites, they are playing for victory, the Grand Slam and, for their opening half Jonathan Sexton, the record for points scored in the history of the tournament which he currently holds tied with his compatriot Ronan O’Gara.
Scottish victory against Italy
In the first match of this last day of the tournament, Scotland won in their lair of Murrayfield, in Edinburgh, in a long uncertain match against Italy (26-14).
Thanks to the points of the offensive bonus, and except English exploit in Ireland, the XV of the thistle thus secures the third place of the tournament, while Italy finishes last, without victory: a “wooden spoon” not very representative of the combativeness and a markedly enhanced Italian game during this tournament.