Wales overwhelm France 27-6 in Six Nations rugby
Wales flanker Sam Warburton scores a try during a Six Nations international rugby union match against France at the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff, south Wales, on February 21, 2014 - by Andrew Yates
Irish referee Alain Rolland, in his last Test, sent three players to the sin-bin in the second half, two of them from the French pack, as the visitors were well beaten.
Wales coach Warren Gatland had fired a warning to his players that he wouldn’t tolerate another performance like the one that ended in a 26-3 defeat in Dublin and his hard talking earned him an immediate response.
No sooner had the game kicked off than Wales won a penalty and Leigh Halfpenny calmed the nerves with the first of his five successful penalty kicks in the opening half with the game a mere two minutes old.
Welsh hopes of making history by winning three successive championships took a severe blow against the Irish, while the French arrived in Cardiff cock-a-hoop after home wins over England and Italy. They also came hoping to avoid a fifth successive away defeat for the first time since 1965.
But things simply went from bad to worse for Phillipe Saint Andre’s men as George North harassed full back Brice Dulin into a mistake close to his line after he had followed up a deft kick ahead by Halfpenny.
The ball trickled out of Dulin’s hands and over the line and North pounced to make it eight points in five minutes for the home side.
Halfpenny missed the conversion, but the Welsh full back made no mistake with another penalty from near halfway to make it 11-0 after nine minutes.
France were their own worst enemies in an opening half of error after error and even though scrum-half Jean-Marc Dousain got them on the scoreboard with a penalty, he missed with another sitter and quickly handed the kicking duties over to his half-back partner Jules Plisson.
He hit the mark once before the break, but Halfpenny kept on rewarding his forwards with successful kicks at goal and Wales were 20-6 ahead at the break.
The Welsh front row dominated the scrums and the defensive effort from the home side was good enough to keep the French attackers at bay, although it took a knock-on from Eric Bonneval to save the Welsh line from being breached on 50 minutes after Mathieu Bastareaud had run through North for the first clean line break from the French.
A minute later referee Rolland, who had earlier warned both packs, sent rival props Gethin Jenkins and Nicolas Mas to the sin-bin for a collapsed scrum. It still took another nine minutes, though, for the first score of the half.
That came moments after No 8 Louis Picamoles had become the second French forward to be given a yellow card, this time for not rolling away in the tackle, and Wales struck.
Quick line-out ball just inside the French 22 gave Jamie Roberts the chance to charge into midfield and he knocked over Plisson before being hauled down 10 metres out from the posts.
The ball was recycled and Sam Warburton picked up and drove over for a try which Rolland awarded after speaking to the TMO.
Halfpenny’s conversion was a simple one to give him a match haul of 17 points and put Wales back 0n the trail for that third successive title.