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Sport

Inspired France gear up for Six Nations finale with Wales win

PARIS (Reuters) - France geared up for the Six Nations Super Saturday in style as Antoine Dupont scored a couple of tries in a 38-21 home victory over Wales in a friendly international on Saturday.

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Les Bleus recovered from a wobbly start to put on an inspired performance at the Stade de France with Cyril Baille, Charles Ollivon and Teddy Thomas adding to Dupont’s tries, the rest of the points coming from the boot of Romain Ntamack.

Wales took an early 10-0 lead but could not stop their opponents’ efficiency, conceding a second defeat in a row by France in their 100th duel, despite tries by Leigh Halfpenny and Nicky Smith as well as three penalties and a conversion by Dan Biggar.

France take on Six Nations leaders Ireland at home next Saturday with Wales hosting Scotland while England will be travelling to Italy.

Second-placed France, Ireland and third-placed England can still win the rescheduled tournament.

France have not won the Six Nations since 2010 and have not finished in the top two since 2011, but regardless of where they end next weekend, Fabien Galthie’s side have shown some promise.

While they still showed some defensive weaknesses, they were quick on their feet, fast with their hands to produce some exhilarating moves after a seven-month layoff following the COVID-19 hiatus.

“We won after only one training session this week, it’s quite an achievement,” a delighted Galthie said.

“We are very happy to start like this after such a long time off. But we can do much better, there’s a lot of room for improvement.”

With the same team who beat England in their Six Nations opener in February, France got off to a terrible start.

Halfpenny touched down following a brilliant defence-cutting pass from Justin Tipuric, with Biggar converting and adding a penalty to put the visitors 10-0 up after eight minutes.

Ntamack pierced through the defence as he paved the way for Baille’s try, signalling France’s entrance in the game.

Some quick and inspired passing led to another French try, by Dupont, who went over again before the break after yet another brilliant move by Virimi Vakatawa.

Biggar missed two routine penalties that could have narrowed the gap for Wales as France lacked discipline in the rucks.

Dupont burst through the defence again to set up Ollivon for France’s fourth try, only for Smith to pull one back for the visitors, but Wales barely threatened again.

Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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