Wales Andrew Coombs (R) looks for a way past France's
Yannick Forestier during their Six Nations match at the
Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris. REUTERS/Charles
A last-gasp try by George North has helped defending
champions Wales to a 16-6 win against France in the Six Nations
at the Stade de France, ending an eight-match losing streak.
Flyhalf Dan Biggar chipped through towards wing North, who
shrugged off Morgan Parra's tackle and dived in at the corner
with eight minutes left after Frederic Michalak and Leigh
Halfpenny had scored two penalties each.
Halfpenny converted and added a penalty five minutes from
time to seal Wales's first win since they beat France at the
Millennium stadium to claim the Grand Slam in last year's Six
France now face a difficult trip to England in two weeks'
time while Wales will take restored confidence into their
match against Italy at the Stadio Olimpico.
"We always knew that we could win, but we had to dig very
deep to take that win against France. It's a great emotion,"
Halfpenny told French TV channel France 2.
France Flyhalf Michalak said: "We defended well but we lacked
efficiency in attack, just like last week."
France, who had started the championship with an embarrassing
defeat against Italy, and Wales, who were beaten by Ireland,
both defended well but were toothless in attack on a chilly
With Mathieu Bastareaud making his first start in almost
three years, Les Bleus once again lacked flair.
Wales looked nothing like the team who claimed the Grand Slam
last year until the final minutes.
Their late rally provoked an angry reaction from the Stade de
France crowd, who booed the French players off the pitch at
the final whistle.
Wales began well with scrumhalf Mike Phillips breaking
through a couple of tackles and coming close to the line on a
churned-up pitch that quickly deteriorated following heavy
rains in Paris.
Biggar tried a drop goal from distance early on but it fell a
long way short, while the game was ten minutes old before
France made their first foray into the Welsh half.
France went ahead against the run of play thanks to a
Michalak penalty after the Wales pack collapsed a scrum 40
metres from the posts.
Halfpenny levelled with an easy penalty after Jocelino Suta
failed to roll away.
Bastareaud and Jocelin Suta threatened with powerful runs and
France looked set to be rewarded with a try after an extended
spell of possession, but the Wales defence held firm and
Halfpenny eventually cleared.
The Wales fullback made it 6-3 just minutes into the second
half with another penalty straight in front of the posts.
France reshuffled their backline with Francois Trinh-Duc
coming on for the injured wing Benjamin Fall and switching
positions with Yoann Huget at fullback.
Trinh-Duc missed a routine drop goal as France opted against
going for a try when well inside the 22-metre line.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre freshened up his front row,
replacing Yannick Forestier and Dimitri Szarzewski with
Benjamin Kayser and Vincent Debaty.
He also brought on Damien Chouly for flanker Fulgence
Ouedraogo while Luc Ducalcon replaced Nicolas Mas.
Michalak slotted a penalty to draw France level before Wales
made changes of their own with Ken Owens coming on for hooker
Richard Hibbard and Paul James replacing Gethin Jenkins.
Morgan Parra took Maxime Machenaud's place at scrumhalf as
France looked to add experience with the match heading for a
The French scrum gradually took the upper hand, but it was
the Welsh backs who made the difference, with North diving in
at the corner following Biggar's moment of inspiration.
Halfpenny slotted the tricky conversion and added the final
nail in France's coffin with his third penalty.