Thursday 29 September 2016

Welsh look to stamp out any hint of French flair and extend domination

Matt Majendie

Published 26/02/2016 | 02:30

The only forced change is Bradley Davies in for the injured Luke Charteris, while France have made a total of five changes, testament perhaps to Novès still trying to settle on his best side (PA)
The only forced change is Bradley Davies in for the injured Luke Charteris, while France have made a total of five changes, testament perhaps to Novès still trying to settle on his best side (PA)

Much has been made of French flair, or rather the distinct lack of it in Six Nations present and past.

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It is flair that Guy Novès has pledged to uncover if it still truly exists among Les Bleus but on taking up his post in the wake of the World Cup he made it clear it was no quick fix. "I haven't arrived, as some people say, like Zorro or with a magic wand," he had said.

Whatever the eventual outcome, any perceived lack of swashbuckling zip and zing is not a new phenomenon. France have only crossed the Wales try-line once in nearly seven hours of rugby between the two sides.

Wales are aiming for a fifth straight victory against France.

And so to another Friday night in the Millennium Stadium, where the roof will be closed, so there will be no climatic excuses for either side not to spark something in attack.

France versus Wales has the danger of being nullified as a contest of running rugby. Wales under defensive coach Shaun Edwards are the masters of stifling any offensive threat an approach that looks likely to be a cornerstone of their game tonight.

Concede

McBryde said: "He's never happy when we concede a try and we've conceded a couple in the first two games."

Under new management, France have been a work in progress. There have been moments of promise.

While France are finding their feet, Wales are well established, the back-row of Taulupe Faletau, Dan Lydiate and Sam Warburton reunited for their 29th international start together but with the warning that even captain Warburton faces the threat of the axe if he is not up to scratch.

Lydiate is in at the expense of Justin Tipuric who, along with wing Tom James, who makes way for Alex Cuthbert and drops out of the 23 altogether, is harshly treated in being dropped.

The only forced change is Bradley Davies in for the injured Luke Charteris, while France have made a total of five changes, testament perhaps to Novès still trying to settle on his best side.

A full World Cup cycle has passed since France last beat Wales, who are now unbeaten in six Six Nations games and with their sights on a fourth championship title of Warren Gatland's tenure. (© Independent News Service)

Wales - Liam Williams; A Cuthbert, J Davies, J Roberts, G North; D Biggar, G Davies; R Evans, S Baldwin, S Lee, B Davies, A-W Jones, D Lydiate, S Warburton (capt), T Faletau. Reps: K Owens, G Jenkins, T Francis, J Ball, J Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, R Priestland, G Anscombe.

France - M Medard; V Vakatawa, M Mermoz, J Danty, D Camara; J Plisson, M Machenaud; J Poirot, G Guirado (capt), R Slimani, P Jedrasiak, A Flanquart, W Lauret, A Burban, D Chouly. Reps: C Chat, U Atonio, V Pelo, Y Maestri, L Goujon, S Bezy, F Trinh-Duc, G Fickou.

Ref - W Barnes (England).

Wales v France, Live, RTE/BBC, 8.05pm

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