Sat 20 Mar 2021 22:21 GMT
Last changed on Sat 20 Mar 2021 23.50 GMT
It’s never over until it’s over. And strictly speaking, no last line can be drawn under the Six Nations Championship 2021, with a final Parisian tango next Friday. This captivating drama, however, will be unbeatable: never before has a Grand Slam been torn away as cruelly as it was here in the last few seconds, when a 13-man Wales was denied a fifth perfect season in 16 years.
The Welshman can still do that Win titles when France can’t book a big bonus points win over Scotland and maybe another crazy turn is expected in a tournament that has already seen more than its fair share. Whenever anyone mentions the Stade de France, supporters of Wales will forever curse the memory of whoever escaped.
With the red clock, it seemed like Wales were holding onto it, only the coffin lid was one last Mal creaked. The man who showed up and applied the coup de grace was French full-back Brice Dulin, who had previously denied an attempt in the 67th minute after an extraordinary U-turn that erased the score and his colleague from the second row, Paul Willemse , was sent off for contacting the eye area of Welsh prop Wyn Jones.
This time there should be no delay as he received the final pass from substitute Arthur Vincent to break every Welsh heart from Caernarvon to Cardiff.
What an exciting game it was, an unsteady tightrope walk in a competition that initially seemed to be following France’s path when Antoine Dupont rolled over for his team’s second attempt after just 14 minutes.
Not for the first time there are a lot of debates in office. After leading France between 30 and 20 to 14 men, Wales managed to lose both Taulupe Faletau and Liam Williams to sin, and they were left with 13 men for the last seven minutes.
One try in the 77th minute for French captain Charles Ollivon, who was replaced by Romain Ntamack, brought the result back to 30-27, but Wales have dodged similar bottlenecks in difficult times in the past.
It shouldn’t be this time . It was rightly established that substitute Cory Hill was sealed in the mishap. With territorial advantage secured, Gaël Fickou’s midfield composure and Dulin’s finish saved a last-ditch bonus point that could help claim a French title.
Wales should be proud of their efforts nonetheless. This is a Welsh squad that finished fifth last season and was mediocre in the fall. Here the attempts of Dan Biggar, Josh Navidi and Josh Adams seemed to put them in the box, only to make the green they had occasionally enjoyed in this tournament suddenly disappear.
If they were lucky enough to be Adams ‘Score awarded without conclusive evidence of priming, her good young winger Louis Rees-Zammit was a millimeter or two from the goal in the right corner, with the advantage being obtained towards the end of the third quarter, a leg in the game , which France may have had difficulty responding to.
In the cold daylight, a lot of attention is also paid to whether Wales should have received a penalty attempt for deliberately collapsing forward rather than just Biggar’s three-point penalty.
Official calls swing an increasing number of games: you win some, like Wales v England in Cardiff, but you also lose some. Either way, it was an extremely crude fairness for Welsh captain Alun Wyn Jones, who was the first Welsh player to appear in four Grand Slams in close proximity. He was there again before kick-off, turning to the group, knocking on the temple, and staring meaningfully at his buddies. When Alun Wyn finally retires, they could do worse than cast him in Line of Duty.
Either way, the great man’s 148th Welsh cap was breathless from the start. France, struck by a defeat by England, were ahead in six minutes. A line-out scrub took them almost to the Welsh line, where towering Romain Taofifénua bent down to score.
How unfortunate Wales was not to register their own immediate response. Gareth Davies looked like he’d slipped over the line from Rees-Zammits Pass only to be stopped by Ollivon. It turned out it didn’t matter. Biggar cut a sharp inside line to pull his side back.
They needed every point available. Dulin’s delicate chip over the top rebounded wonderfully for Matthieu Jalibert, who was properly feeding the lurking Dupont on his elbow.
At this point, the shoulders of many sides would have sunk. Not Wales. Back they came back again, running hard and intelligent and there was no obstacle for Navidi up close. Four great attempts in the first quarter? They really spoil us, Ambassador.
The big question was how far Shaun Edwards would get the French going during the break, with the score between 17-17, as he did for as long as Wales’ defense coach. Whatever he said seemed largely lost in translation. France, who had just 35 seconds in the Welsh 22 in the first half, continued to look strangely passive for a long time, and another Biggar penalty gave the visitors a 20-17 advantage.
Then came the TMO -Call in the 50th minute that seemed to have turned the game in the direction of Wales. In Wayne Barnes’ view, there simply wasn’t enough conclusive evidence to override the umpire’s initial on-field decision that Adams made, with Dylan Cretin’s hand ruling not to have saved the day.The yellow card in the 59th minute for prop Mohamed Haouas also seemed to point to an away win, but fate and Dulin had other ideas. It’s hard to remember a more extraordinary ending in the history of the Six Nations.
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