It was exciting, rather error-ridden with a number of poor options thrown in, and France were their own worst enemy as they allowed Wales to stage the biggest Six Nations comeback yet after half-time to clinch an unlikely win.
Wales piled up 24 points in the first of this year’s Six Nations tournament and conceded just three after the break when they were trailing 0-16 ‒ and it should have been more, enough points more for France to be to have been out of sight. Still they lost, with Wales happy enough about the score but not about their sustained quality of play.
Ten points from the boot, two sitters and two of average difficulty, were squandered and France went into the second half with less than they deserved but still with a comfortable enough lead of 16-0.
It wasn’t enough. Wales came back, played the best rugby although they didn’t have it their own way, and were gifted a seven-pointer after an interception when it looked as if France were on attack with a try a possibility.
Despite the rain and wet underfoot, France’s backs played exciting attacking rugby with their backline supplementing the good work of their huge pack. Tries by Louis Picamoles and Yoann Huget, both unconverted, a successful penalty (at last!) this time from Camille Lope and his drop goal on the whistle gave France a deserved 16-0 lead at the turnover.
Then first Josh Adams went searing into the clear and put Tomos Williams over for a try in his first starting test and then Huget, chasing an aimless Anscombe kick to the in-goal area, spilled it with North pouncing.
Both tries were converted by Gareth Anscombe, and the 14-17 deficit became a 17-16 lead through replacement flyhalf Dan Biggar’s penalty.
France, showing glimpses of their first-half form, retook the lead through a penalty by Gomez, but then Sebastien Vahaamahina threw a suicidal long pass that North had enough time to read the intercept gimme to speed clear.
Wales held on, but Warren Gatland as coach has some serious thinking to do before they meet Italy next weekend, with his halfbacks a particular concern with the expectedly much tougher encounters ahead.