Slam dunk for Dragons
17 Mar 2012
Wales beat France 16-9 in Cardiff to claim their third Grand Slam in eight years and avenge their World Cup semi-final defeat.
The Dragons now have 11 Grand Slams in total, just one less than arch-rivals England, and you wouldn’t bet against them adding a couple more in the near future. Warren Gatland’s side may be Six Nations champions but they can, and should, get better.
France, in contrast, are in a downward spiral having finished their campaign with a draw and two defeats, and coach Philippe Saint-Andre has a lot of work to do.
The French made a good start to this game and deservedly led 3-0 after a penalty from flyhalf Lionel Beauxis. His opposite number Rhys Priestland’s penalty attempt hit the right-hand upright and the visitors continued to look the more threatening side on attack.
Wales, though, burst into life at the end of the first quarter when French captain Thierry Dusautoir was tackled on his 10m line and Wales lock Alun Wyn Jones made a crucial turnover. The hosts quickly sent the ball wide to right wing Alex Cuthbert, who cut back inside to beat the last defender and score the try.
Leigh Halfpenny kicked the conversion and added a penalty that gave his side a 10-3 lead after 32 minutes. The fullback had a chance to extend Wales’ advantage on the stroke of half-time but the ball came off the right-hand upright.
Beauxis and Halfpenny exchanged penalties early in the second half (the latter’s coming from 50m out).
France soon began to dominate possession and came close to scoring on a couple of occasions. With seven minutes to go, they were awarded a penalty in front of the posts but instead of taking the scrum and pushing for the try, Yachvili kicked the points to reduce the deficit to four.
Wales surged back into opposition territory from the restart and won a penalty, which Halfpenny sent through the posts. The hosts then hung on to the ball for the last two minutes, got another penalty, and booted the ball into the stands to start the party.
By Simon Borchardt