20th October 2012, 18:15
GUTSY WALES FALL TO FRANCE
DEFENCE EXCELLENT BUT WELSH LOSE IT IN EIGHT FIRST-HALF MINUTES
BY GARY BAKER IN LENS
BY GARY BAKER IN LENS
(PICTURE BY HUW EVANS: DAVID JAMES SCORES WALES' TRY)
FRANCE 20 WALES 6
WALES suffered bitter disappointment in Lens on Saturday as they went down to defeat in the Autumn International Series to France.
But it was a sterling effort from the side who were 6-0 up for most of the first-half until an eight-minute blitz saw France go 18-6 in front, a lead they never lost.
Full-back David James scored Wales' only try of the match as they now look to put things right against England next Saturday in Wrexham.
It proves how close Wales were in that they defended their hearts out for a lot of the match and prevented the French from scoring a try in the second-period which they lost just 2-0 due to a Thomas Bosc penalty.
Wales started brightly and took the lead through that James try which was a very good effort. They were in French half around 20 yards out when Danny Jones found some space, laid the ball off to Matt Seamark who put the ball to James ten yards out.
James sped past the desperate cover and touched down for Matt Seamark to convert.
Wales battled hard as the French upped the stakes. Twice the home country could have gone over but the first was ruled out by referee Richard Silverwood for a forward pass when Clement Soubeyras was put in at the corner.
Then an oustanding tackle from wing Rob Massam on the left corner when Bosc had chipped across for Mathias Pala to chase stopped that move in its' tracks.
Wales battled hard through their sets of six, but the French pounded their line. Great defence, with all the side to the fore, kept the home team at bay.
But Bosc at half-back was beginning to play a significant part in the match, and he was the architect for the try that brought France level as he chipped through to the Welsh line on sixth tackle for interchange Romaric Bemba to finish off.
That was the start of that difficult eight minutes for the Welsh side as full-back Cyril Stacul's converted try put the French ahead for the first time and then a dynamic breakaway saw Jason Baitieri feed the waiting Bosc ten yards out with the Welsh defence struggling.
Wales started the second-half competitively but a high tackle from prop Gil Dudson on Baiteri when the Frenchman was kicking the ball high on sixth tackle ended with the Wigan prop going into the sin bin.
But, in the punch-up that followed the tackle, France loose forward Gregory Mounis was accused of being at the centre of it and also went for ten minutes on the sidelines.
The powerful French pack put the pressure on Wales once again and stand-off half Bosc nearly went over for another try but outstanding defence kept him out.
It left the French, who were brimming with players from Super League side Catalans Dragons, frustrated enough to go for a penalty instead of trying to add more touchdowns, a vague compliment to the Welsh.
In attack, there were some encouraging signs for Wales. Just after the hour, they pressurised the home side and a cross-kick on sixth tackle by Jones nearly put Elliott Kear in on the wing.
And they put in good work to make ground into the home danger area a couple more times but were unable to finish the moves off.
It was an intense second period from the Welsh and they made France work for any possession.
However, it ended in defeat and no second victory on French soil in two years after the 12-11 victory in Albi to win the European Cup.
So it is back home on Sunday and the task of preparing to face England. Yet, there were encouraging signs that Wales are taking srides in the right direction now and the fact that the loss hurt all the squad is, in itself, very encouraging.
FRANCE: Cyril Stacul, Mathias Pala, Vincent Duport, Kevin Larroyer, Clement Soubeyras, Thomas Bosc, William Barthau, Olivier Elima (capt), Tony Gigot, Remi Casty, Antoni Maria, Sebastien Raguin, Gregory Mounis.
Interchanges: Mathieu Griffi, Jason Baitieri, Romaric Bemba, Eloi, Pelissier
WALES: David James, Elliott Kear, Mike Channing, Christiaan Roets, Rob Massam, Danny Jones, Matt Seamark, Gil Dudson, Neil Budworth, Craig Kopczak (capt), Rhodri Lloyd, Ben Evans, Ben Flower.
Interchanges: Dan Fleming, Jordan James, Rhys Pugsley, Craig Moss
Scorers: France: Tries: Romaric Bemba, Cyril Stacul, Thomas Bosc. Pen: Thomas Bosc. Cons: Thomas Bosc (3)
Wales: Try: David James. Con: Matt Seamark
Referee: Richard Silverwood (England)
Attendance: 11, 278