Wales 24-45 France: Second-half dominance sees Les Bleus to bonus-point Six Nations win in Cardiff

Rugby Union

Gael Fickou, Nolann Le Garrec, Georges-Henri Colombe, Romain Taofifenua, Maxime Lucu scored tries as France eventually pulled away from Wales in final quarter to clinch bonus-point Six Nations win at Principality Stadium in Cardiff; Rio Dyer, Tomos Williams, Joe Roberts scored Wales tries

An all-action first half saw the sides trade two tries each, with the lead changing hands five times after scores from wing Rio Dyer and scrum-half Tomos Williams for Wales, and centre Gael Fickou and scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec for France.

France narrowed the Wales lead back to four points within four minutes via Ramos’ boot, when the first scrum of the day saw Les Bleus ominously drive over the top of their Welsh counterparts against the head.

Wales lock Adam Beard did well to force a maul turnover with France putting pressure on in the Wales 22, but within a couple of minutes, France got over for the lead after an attack at pace saw the ball pass through Ramos and Damian Penaud to give Fickou a one-on-one vs Costelow which he was always likely to win.

Ramos converted superbly from the touchline, but Wales were over the try-line themselves almost immediately, as centre Owen Watkin made the telling break, before passing inside for Williams to sprint in untouched under the sticks again – France’s defence poor and punished for a second time.

Four minutes after that, France had their second try to regain the lead once more, as after full-back Cameron Winnett was hassled and forced to carry back over his own try-line to hand France a five-metre scrum attack, Le Garrec showed awareness to snipe over by the posts.

No further points came in the remainder of the first period, and just three minutes into the second, Wales were ahead again as Roberts dummied and got over after Williams had just been stopped by a last-ditch Fickou tackle.

What followed was a 20-minute period of virtual total French dominance, but one where they failed to add points as Ramos and debutant centre Nicolas Depoortere were chopped down by the try-line, No 8 Gregory Alldritt saw a try ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on, and scrum dominance close to the Wales try-line failed to be rewarded by ref Luke Pearce when he ultimately penalised France for an early drive.

Instead, France kicked a penalty for points the next time they were within range after a storming Penaud run, and with 15 minutes to go, France finally got the try and lead their pressure merited through powerful prop Colombe from close range.

Five minutes later the match was ended as a contest when Taofifenua charged down Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies, and raced ahead to ground.

Ramos added a further penalty after good breakdown work by Colombe, and there remained just enough time for Lucu to take a lovely Penaud offload for a fifth try in the final play. A score which, quite aptly, came following another scrum attack.