Wednesday 28 June 2017

Still a game of chance

a ruddock

Lightning does not strike twice, at least not in Cardiff. Frederick Michalak has a reputation for flakiness under pressure but on Friday night the French outhalf showed he had learned the lesson of Scotland's recent implosion against Wales.

As the clock ticked into overtime, Michalak kicked the ball dead from the restart after Shane Williams had danced through for a try in the final seconds of Friday night's game, denying Wales one last chance to steal the game.

So France survived, their Grand Slam still on course after a night of Welsh generosity that coughed up two intercept tries, too many silly penalties and even more errors than Ireland had managed in Paris two weeks earlier.

France looked human again as the Welsh fought back in the second half, and looked ragged as Welsh dominance briefly threatened to take the game from them, but the home side could not find the composure to finish them off. It proved, once again, that Slams are not won without large slices of luck, or Eddie O'Sullivan's "bounce of a ball": as Ireland discovered last year, it is not enough to be a great team, you also have to be a lucky one.

With two home games to come against Italy and England, France's Slam should be in the bag -- but chance could still play its part.

aruddock@independent.ie

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