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France vs. Wales: Score and Twitter Reaction from 2015 Six Nations Round 3

Tom Sunderland@@TomSunderland_Featured ColumnistFebruary 28, 2015

France’s Mathieu Bastareaud is tackled by Wales’ Leigh Halfpenny, right, during their Six Nations tournament match France’s against Wales at Stade de France, in Saint Denis, north of Paris, France, Saturday, Feb. 28, 2015. (AP Photo/Francois Mori)
Francois Mori/Associated Press

Wales claimed their fourth successive Six Nations victory over France on Saturday after Warren Gatland's men left Paris with a 20-13 victory to their names.

The Welsh never trailed at the Stade de France, as Leigh Halfpenny played a huge hand in kicking his side to victory, per the Welsh Rugby Union's official Twitter account:

Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 @WelshRugbyUnion

FT France 13 - 20 Wales #FRAvWAL http://t.co/7hG1kHy8F3

All signs coming to Paris pointed to a tight encounter between two contenders duelling to maintain the slightest hint of a title challenge, and the first half produced just that.

The technical area was a particularly intriguing part of the fixture, as both packs looked to unearth a foothold at the Stade de France.

Wales centre Jamie Roberts was carrying well against Les Bleus' back line and making useful yardage early on, testing the fortitude of Wesley Fofana and Remi Lamerat, the latter making his first start of the tournament.

As commentator Brian Moore stated, physicality was in abundance during the game's early exchanges:

Brian Moore @brianmoore666

France v Wales - not much subtlety thus far.

Halfpenny and Camille Lopez were responsible for the only points of the first period, going back and forth from the tee, although it was Gatland's full-back who enjoyed the better success.

Wales amassed a 6-3 lead after 28 minutes thanks to their full-back's accuracy from range, per Wales Online, while Lopez was left seemingly frustrated with his tee after a failed attempt to draw France level:

WalesOnline Rugby @WalesRugby

Lopez gives away a soft pen. The crowd don't like it. Halfpenny doesn't care. 3-6. #FRAvWAL http://t.co/2chaA9Tz42 http://t.co/kcL5TvfsvA

The biggest chance for Philippe Saint-Andre's men came when Yoann Huget was found with some space on the right flank, but the Stade de France fell silent just seconds after the winger dotted down.

As BBC ScrumV stated, it was a controversial decision for referee George Clancy to pull the play back, but Huget's score was rightly ruled out for a forward pass earlier in the passage of play:

BBC ScrumV @BBCScrumV

Big call by referee...Was that forward pass by France?? "Great call" says @JiffyRugby Wales still lead 3-6. #FRAvWAL

France looked to be the more mobile side at the beginning of the second period, but it wasn't long before the two kickers were swapping blows once more, Halfpenny sending Wales into a 9-6 lead.

Going toe-to-toe against opposition back lines has proven problematic for Wales in recent matches, but their counter rugby has been fast and furious at times.

Francois Mori/Associated Press

And again Gatland's men showed themselves to be unforgiving opponents when a knock-on from Mathieu Bastareaud—on for the injured Lamerat—gifted the visitors an opportunity on 59 minutes.

Rhys Webb led the initial surge, but it was a superb offload from Dan Lydiate that put Dan Biggar in for a score in the right corner, leading Moore to criticise Saint-Andre's coaching status:

Brian Moore @brianmoore666

Lovely try for Biggar - I'm not sure how Saint-Andre still has a job.

Halfpenny slipped when trying to add the conversion, but made up for that miss just minutes later when taking the Welsh lead to 17-6 with a wonderfully slotted penalty.

Ex-England centre Will Greenwood urged Lopez to keep ball in hand and stop kicking possession away:

Will Greenwood @WillGreenwood

Someone tell Lopez to stop chipping the blooming ball!!! #frenchhorrorshow cringeworthy tactics. Well done Wales. France gone in head.

Just as France were entering a lull in their game, a fire seemed to be lit under the hosts, and it was here that their assault began.

At an 11-point deficit, the game looked beyond Les Bleus, but a 64th-minute try from full-back Brice Dulin tipped the fixture back within reach.

With an overlap on the left, Dulin just managed to slide in under the challenge of Lydiate as France finally opened up a stride out back, OptaJonny confirming the end of their try drought against Wales:

OptaJonny @OptaJonny

329 - France had gone 329 minutes against Wales without managing a try before Brice Dulin crossed the whitewash. Drought.

A scrappy Lopez conversion put the score at 17-13 to Wales heading into the final exchanges, and the Stade de France was frantic coming into what promised to be a decisive last 10 minutes.

Les Bleus came knocking at Wales' gates in great number, and it was the fine work of the Welsh pack that largely kept them at bay, although the backs were tireless in their work, too:

Will Greenwood @WillGreenwood

Well played Wales... Any Win in Paris is an amazing result. Tough tough efforts from so many of the Welsh lads. Mental and Physical Prowess!

Halfpenny even gave the travelling side some relief with a fifth penalty strike of the day, France forced to chase the try even more fervently as they trailed 20-13.

Defence came to be Wales' saving grace yet again, though, as they irked out the last few passages of play and forced France to settle for nothing more than a close defeat.

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