Wales 24 – 45 France


Gael Fickou, Nolann Le Garrec, Georges-Henri Colombe, Romain Taofifenua, Maxime Lucu scored tries as France eventually pulled away from Wales in final quarter to clinch bonus-point Six Nations win at Principality Stadium in Cardiff; Rio Dyer, Tomos Williams, Joe Roberts scored Wales tries

Last Updated: 10/03/24 5:58pm

Gael Fickou scored one of five tries as France kicked on to beat Wales well in Cardiff

Gael Fickou scored one of five tries as France kicked on to beat Wales well in Cardiff

A second half performance of dominance saw France to a morale-boosting 45-24 Six Nations Round Four victory over Wales in Cardiff, who remain winless in this year’s championship. 

An all-action first half saw the sides trade two tries each, with the lead changing hands five times after scores from wing Rio Dyer and scrum-half Tomos Williams for Wales, and centre Gael Fickou and scrum-half Nolann Le Garrec for France.

Respective fly-halves Sam Costelow (one penalty, two conversions) and Thomas Ramos (two penalties, two conversions) also struck off the tee, to leave France ahead by three at the break.

Wales scored again through centre Joe Roberts to regain the lead, but it was all France from then on, as replacement tighthead Georges-Henri Colombe (on his Test debut), lock Romain Taofifenua and scrum-half Maxime Lucu scored further tries to secure a bonus-point success.

Wales – Tries: Dyer (9), T Williams (25), Roberts (43). Cons: Costelow (10, 26, 45). Pens: Costelow (2)

France – Tries: Fickou (22), Le Garrec (29), Colombe (65), Taofifenua (69), Lucu (80+1). Cons: Ramos (23, 30, 66, 70). Pens: Ramos (7, 15, 61, 74).

After Costelow (2) and Ramos (7) traded early penalties under a closed roof in Cardiff, Wales notched the opening try out of nothing, when fleet-footed wing Dyer picked up a loose ball and sped straight up the middle of the pitch through France’s defence to score under the posts.

Rio Dyer raced in for the opening try of the Test in the 10th minute

Rio Dyer raced in for the opening try of the Test in the 10th minute

France narrowed the Wales lead back to four points within four minutes via Ramos’ boot, when the first scrum of the day saw Les Bleus ominously drive over the top of their Welsh counterparts against the head.

Wales lock Adam Beard did well to force a maul turnover with France putting pressure on in the Wales 22, but within a couple of minutes, France got over for the lead after an attack at pace saw the ball pass through Ramos and Damian Penaud to give Fickou a one-on-one vs Costelow which he was always likely to win.

Fickou scored in the corner to put France ahead midway through the first half

Fickou scored in the corner to put France ahead midway through the first half

Ramos converted superbly from the touchline, but Wales were over the try-line themselves almost immediately, as centre Owen Watkin made the telling break, before passing inside for Williams to sprint in untouched under the sticks again – France’s defence poor and punished for a second time.

Tomos Williams sprinted in for Wales' second try after superb work from Owen Watkin

Tomos Williams sprinted in for Wales’ second try after superb work from Owen Watkin

Four minutes after that, France had their second try to regain the lead once more, as after full-back Cameron Winnett was hassled and forced to carry back over his own try-line to hand France a five-metre scrum attack, Le Garrec showed awareness to snipe over by the posts.

No further points came in the remainder of the first period, and just three minutes into the second, Wales were ahead again as Roberts dummied and got over after Williams had just been stopped by a last-ditch Fickou tackle.

Wales centre Joe Roberts smuggled his way over for their third try

Wales centre Joe Roberts smuggled his way over for their third try

What followed was a 20-minute period of virtual total French dominance, but one where they failed to add points as Ramos and debutant centre Nicolas Depoortere were chopped down by the try-line, No 8 Gregory Alldritt saw a try ruled out by the TMO for a knock-on, and scrum dominance close to the Wales try-line failed to be rewarded by ref Luke Pearce when he ultimately penalised France for an early drive.

Instead, France kicked a penalty for points the next time they were within range after a storming Penaud run, and with 15 minutes to go, France finally got the try and lead their pressure merited through powerful prop Colombe from close range.

Georges-Henri Colombe scored France's crucial third try with 15 minutes to play

Georges-Henri Colombe scored France’s crucial third try with 15 minutes to play

Thomas Ramos kicked magnificently off the tee, landing eight attempts from nine

Thomas Ramos kicked magnificently off the tee, landing eight attempts from nine

Five minutes later the match was ended as a contest when Taofifenua charged down Wales scrum-half Gareth Davies, and raced ahead to ground.

Ramos added a further penalty after good breakdown work by Colombe, and there remained just enough time for Lucu to take a lovely Penaud offload for a fifth try in the final play. A score which, quite aptly, came following another scrum attack.

What’s next?

Wales face Italy at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff in the final round of the championship on Saturday, March 16 (2.15pm kick-off GMT), looking to avoid a first Wooden Spoon since 2003.

Wales’ Six Nations 2024 fixtures

Saturday, February 3 Wales 26-27 Scotland 4.45pm
Saturday, February 10 England 16-14 Wales 4.45pm
Saturday, February 24 Ireland 31-7 Wales 2.15pm
Sunday, March 10 Wales 24-45 France 3pm
Saturday, March 16 Wales vs Italy 2.15pm

France host England in Lyon on Saturday, March 16 (8pm kick-off GMT) for their final Test of a disappointing 2024 championship.

France’s Six Nations 2024 fixtures

Friday, February 2 France 17-38 Ireland 8pm
Saturday, February 10 Scotland 16-20 France 2.15pm
Sunday, February 25 France 13-13 Italy 3pm
Sunday, March 10 Wales 24-45 France 3pm
Saturday, March 16 France vs England 8pm

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