The XV of France, victorious over Wales 13-9 in Cardiff on Friday evening during the 4th day, is only 80 minutes away from the Grand Slam in the Six Nations Tournament, after which it has been chasing since 2010. France thus has a seventh victory in a row and is getting closer to its best series, a series of eight successes, achieved in 2004.
Eighty minutes. France, victorious over Wales 13-9 in Cardiff on Friday evening during the 4th day of the 2022 Six Nations Tournament, is only 80 minutes away from a Grand Slam, after which it has been chasing since 2010. To do this, the Blues, authors of the only try of the match by third line Anthony Jelonch, will have to beat England on the last day at the Stade de France, which receives Ireland at Twickenham on Saturday. Until the end, while a Welsh try would have changed the game, the defense held on. Until the end, the Habs were inflexible.
France thus has a seventh victory in a row and is getting closer to its best series, a series of eight successes, achieved in 2004. And yet this meeting had everything of a trap match. First, because France was – still is – the only team still undefeated in this 2022 edition of the tournament remained on three straight victories against XV du Poireau, defending champion, but handicapped this year by numerous absences. Then because the Welsh had won nine of their last ten meetings in their Millennium stadium. It is true that their only defeat had been against … France, in 2020.
And we believed that the trap would close on these Blues, deprived for their part of their winger Damian Penaud, affected by the Covid-19 before flying to Cardiff, as the second half was tense.
As usual – since the start of the Tournament, 20% of the points scored by the Blues are scored in the first ten minutes – the XV of France hit hard from the start, with a try from the third line Anthony Jelonch from the 9th minute. Following a surplus, the Gersois found himself offset on the wing, well served by Gabin Villière and in an ideal position to flatten his second try, after that scored against Italy on the first day, and the 14th of the Blues since the start of the competition. The first half was punctuated, as was to be expected, by numerous exchanges of kicks between the French and Welsh rears, and in this little game of “I send you the ball, you send me the ball back”, Welsh and French have made equal play.
In a Millennium stadium that was not full, more than 10,000 seats having not found takers, with an open roof and in dry weather, the two teams played a very physical match, in an electric atmosphere, Welsh choirs proclaiming “Wales, Wales” opposite to the “Marseillaise” and “allez les bleus” of the very many French spectators. The Leek XV “makes very few mistakes, it’s a team that gives very few resources to the opponent. On the contrary, as soon as we open up, the Welsh exploit the slightest flaw, they gobble up and manage to score points fairly quickly,” warned Antoine Dupont on Thursday.
Knowing that with a metronome like Dan Biggar on the Welsh side, the slightest mistake is paid for in cash, discipline was one of the keys to the match. Fortunately, the Blues striker, Melvyn Jaminet, if he had been disturbed at Murrayfield by the wind in particular, was impeccable, both in the reception of the many candles and in his kicks, even if he missed a last penalty in the 77th which could have given the French supporters a little breather. During the second period, the Welsh tried everything, multiplying the offensives, but did not manage to shake the Blues. Until the last minutes, the hermetic, solid French defense showed its seriousness, this desire to win. The Grand Slam is no longer a dream, it is very close.