Frogs hold on for gutsy win
27 Feb 2009
France survived a nervy last five minutes to claim a 21-16 victory in Paris to deny Wales a record ninth successive Six Nations win.
Wales gave it their all in the dying moments of the match as they looked to keep their Grand Slam hopes alive, but the French, buoyed by the home crowd, stood up tall to throw the Six Nations wide open.
The match was an all out slug fest highlighted by some bone-crunching tackles and some fearsome cleaning out at the breakdown typified by the outstanding Imanol Harinordoquy and Thierry Dusautoir.
In an evenly balanced first-half Stephen Jones and Morgan Parra exchanged early penalties before a Welsh lineout led to the first try of the game. Tom Shanklin started the move before Lee Bryne took the ball on a great angled run to slice through the French defence for the five points.
With seven minutes left in the first half the French scrumhalf cut the lead to just seven with yet another penalty before, right on the stroke of half-time, the hosts levelled matters through a Dusautoir try which Parra converted with ease.
France made a good start to the second-half and had the opportunity to go in front for the first time in the game just three minutes in, but Parra’s attempt struck the upright.
However, the Paris faithful would not have to wait long to see their side take the lead when Cedric Heymans finished off a good period of sustained pressure. Parra’s conversion attempt struck the upright and the hosts led by five.
Wales turned to their bench, bringing on Dwayne Peel and Gavin Henson, as they tried to turn the tide back in their favour.
Les Blues looked the better of the two sides in the final quarter and after two misses, Parra finally put some daylight between the teams with a 70 minute penalty, but just two minutes later replacement James Hook canceled out the scrumhalf’s effort.
The penalty gave the visitors hope as they through everything at the French with less than five minutes left, but the hosts matched Wales in the intensity department and in the end held on for a famous victory – ending Wales’ Grand Slam hopes.