France win in 100th minute
France scored a converted try in the 100th minute of the game to defeat Wales 20-18 in their Six Nations clash in Paris on Saturday.
A 20-minute spell on the Welsh line was the conclusion to this fixture as Camille Chat’s try, converted by Camille Lopez, saw France win.
Les Bleus’ other try-scorer was Rémi Lamerat, while for Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny kicked six out of six penalty attempts, as they finish fifth.
France began with a real purpose in Paris and despite fly-half Lopez missing a long-range penalty, they led 7-0 in the seventh minute after said player’s clever chip in the Welsh 22 saw centre Lamerat gather and cross. Lopez’s conversion was an easy one from in front.
Louis Picamoles was a catalyst for France up front while their pack also showed their power to hand Lopez a shot for 10-0 which he took.
Then came a controversial moment in the match on 19 minutes as Virimi Vakatawa was adjudged to have deliberately knocked down Dan Biggar’s pass to George North, who had the line within reach. Wayne Barnes was confident it was a card offence as Vakatawa went to the bin.
Halfpenny made an immediate dent in the score from wide out before nailing another penalty, this time from over 50 metres out, for 10-6.
Wales seemed to be growing in confidence and continued to flourish with ball in hand, possibly feeling aggrieved to go into the break with just one more Halfpenny penalty to their name.
As it was, 10-9 was a fair reflection on the fixture which looked set to go down to the wire.
France wanted to make a statement after the break, snubbing two penalties in favour of a quick tap and then scrum, which backfired when Barnes penalised them at the set-piece.
Barnes was becoming increasingly unpopular at the Stade de France with the local supporters.
And the experienced referee Barnes was in the firing line of boos again soon after when Wales were handed another scrum penalty, Halfpenny did the rest from halfway.
Wales were now leading for the first time in the game and with 20 minutes remaining France decided to send on the majority of their bench.
The visitors meanwhile had lost both Alun Wyn Jones and Jake Ball to injury, which meant replacement hooker Scott Baldwin had to play out of position, with more disruption set to come until the end of the match.
Halfpenny was on-target again from a similar position on 65 minutes to make it 15-10 to Wales but Lopez responded soon after for 15-13.
Crucially for Wales they reclaimed that five-point buffer on 72 minutes following Uini Atonio’s high tackle, with Halfpenny slotting from in front.
They now had the clock and lead on their side with the possibility of back-to-back wins over Ireland and France looming large.
Then followed over 20 remarkable minutes of France play being camped on the Welsh line, which saw tighthead prop Samson Lee yellow carded, as France banged on the door.
Eventually they bust it open with replacement Chat crossing in the 100th minute, after a series of scrum penalties and attacks giong close, before Lopez slotted the match-winning conversion, ending a bizarre game at the Stade de France.
Tries: Lamerat, Chat
Cons: Lopez 2
Pens: Lopez 2
Yellow Card: Vakatawa
Pens: Halfpenny 6
Yellow Card: Lee
France: 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Rémi Lamerat, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Baptiste Serin, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Kévin Gourdon, 6 Fabien Sanconnie, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Cyril Baille
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Uini Atonio, 18 Eddy Ben Arous, 19 Julien Le Devedec, 20 Bernard Le Roux, 21 Antoine Dupont, 22 François Trinh-Duc, 23 Yoann Huget
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Ross Moriarty, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Sam Warburton, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Samson Lee, 19 Luke Charteris, 20 Taulupe Faletau, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Sam Davies, 23 Jamie Roberts
Date: Saturday, March 18
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant Referees: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand), Matthew Carley (England)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)