23rd October 2010, 15:19
2010 - France 11 Wales 12
Wales qualify for the Four Nations in 2011
In front of a near capacity crowd in Albi, Wales pulled off a massive shock to beat favourites France on their own turf by the slenderest of margins to win the European Cup and qualify for the 2011 Four Nations where they will take on England, Australia and New Zealand.
However despite the low score, the games was a thriller where the result was in doubt right up until the final seconds. It took a penalty from Lloyd White, once again one of the star players for Wales, to give them unarguably the biggest win in Welsh Rugby League history.
France started off the strongest but Wales were tough in defence with Jordan James and Christiaan Roets especially standing tall against the might of the tricolours attack.
In the first real attack, Cyril Stacul stopped in his tracks from Roets while Elliot Kear desperately cleared up from a Nicolas Munoz grubber kick forcing a goal-line drop-out.
Remi Casty almost went over the line but was just short after receiving Kane Bentley's off-load.
Sloppy passing from Olivier Elima also prevented the home side from scoring an opener, a wasted chance after Tony Gigot's excellent 40-20.
Wales' first chance came on 14 minutes when Mark Lennon attempted to get onto the end of a high bomb but Elima was first to the ball.
But France eventually broke through on 17 minutes when Quentin Nauroy got on the end of a Teddy Sadaoui pass after full-back Stacul started the move. Munoz missed the conversion attempt.
Nauroy could have scored a second but Welsh full-back Kear brilliantly snatched the ball away from him as he was looking to get on the end of a grubber kick.
Wales fought for an equalising try but couldn't deliver that final fatal blow as the dominated the final 20 minutes of the first half.
Rhys Williams thought he had a try on the board when he dived onto a loose ball but the video referee ruled that Kear knocked on when diving for the ball in the lead up.
An Aled James pass was palmed down leading to a Welsh scrum on France's 10 metre line but again, the visitors failed to take advantage of possession and the chance was lost, while a hopeful Kear pass five minutes before the interval, aiming for Lennon, sailed to into touch.
Both sides tightened up in the second half, especially when it came to handling errors with fewer scrums given away, even as the intensity of the contest increased.
Wales finally got on the board on 46 minutes when Rhys Williams got onto the end of Danny Jones' pass. It was his tenth Welsh try putting him in second place in the all-time list, just two behind his coach Iestyn Harris. White's conversion put them into the lead.
France attempted to get a try back but Tony Gigot's grubber kick went too far for Jean Philippe Baile to reach.
But Wales increased their lead on the hour when skipper Gareth Thomas scored following a fine passing move involving Jones, White and Kear. White was unlucky to miss the tough kick that just sailed past the far post. Wales a slender 10-4 up.
France looked for a way back. Casty was short of the line in a strong attack while Lennon and Kear cleared up the resulting kick to Baile.
But they got through on 67 minutes. Yohan Tisseyre knocked the ball down after outjumping Williams and Teddy Sadoaui was in the right place to score. Munoz converted to level the scores and put France in pole position.
Lloyd White looked to have scored a winner for Wales but his drop-goal was ruled out for obstruction.
From the resulting penalty, France went upfield and nicked what looked to be the winning one-pointer themselves through Gigot.
With four minutes to go, Wales were awarded a penalty 40 metres out. Lloyd White ignored the cat-calls around the stadium and kicked the winning goal.
1. Cyril Stacul (Union Treiziste Catalan)
2. Frederic Vaccari (Union Treiziste Catalan)
3. Jean-Phillipe Baile (Catalans Dragons)
4. Teddy Sadaoui (AS Carcassonne)
5. Quentin Nauroy (Union Treiziste Catalan)
6. Tony Gigot (Union Treiziste Catalan)
7. Nicolas Munoz (Lézignan Sangliers)
8. Jamal Fakir (Catalans Dragons)
9. Kane Bentley (Union Treiziste Catalan)
10. Remi Casty (Catalans Dragons)
11. Olivier Elima (Bradford Bulls)
12. Michael Simon (Union Treiziste Catalan)
13. Jason Baitieri (Catalans Dragons)
14. Sebastien Martins (Union Treiziste Catalan)
15. Mathieu Griffi (Toulouse Olympique)
16. Andrew Bentley (Lézignan Sangliers)
17. Yoan Tisseyre (Toulouse Olympique)
Tries: Nauroy (17), Sadoaui (67)
Goals: Munoz 1/2
1. Elliot Kear (Crusaders)
2. Rhys Williams (Warrington Wolves)
3. Christiaan Roets (South Wales Scorpions)
4. Gareth Thomas (Crusaders)
5. Mark Lennon (Cronulla Sharks)
6. Ian Webster (Central Queensland Comets)
7. Danny Jones (Keighley Cougars)
8. Jordan James (Crusaders)
9. Lloyd White (Crusaders)
10. Jacob Emmitt (St Helens)
11. Chris Beasley (Central Queensland Comets)
12. Aled James (South Wales Scorpions)
13. Ben Flower (Crusaders)
14. Jordan Ross (York City Knights)
15. Ross Divorty (Featherstone Rovers)
16. Gil Dudson (Crusaders)
17. Neil Budworth (Mackay Cutters)
Tries: Williams (46), Thomas (60)
Goals: White 2/3
Referee: Phil Bentham (England)