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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.