North and Biggar send Wales top as French Grand-Slam hopes end


Wales ended France's hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam and went top of the standings at least temporarily with a gritty 19-10 victory at the Principality Stadium on Friday.

France had claimed two wins from two to start their new era under Guy Noves but had been unconvincing in the victories over Italy and Ireland.

And they were finally undone by a Wales side that remains unbeaten in the tournament having drawn with Ireland and earned a narrow win over Scotland in their opening matches.

The boot of Dan Biggar gave Wales a narrow lead in a first half short on excitement but the key moment came in the 45th minute when George North crossed for the game's sole try.

North's second try in as many games gave Wales a measure of command and, although France dominated possession and territory for much of the second half, Warren Gatland's men stood firm to seal the points and move top, ahead of England's meeting with Ireland on Saturday.

Fly-halves Biggar and Jules Plisson traded missed penalties inside the first 20 minutes but it was Wales who were the more fluent attacking side in the opening stages.

Biggar atoned for his earlier miss in the 21st minute, converting a three-pointer after Paul Jedrasiak was penalised for a late hit on Taulupe Faletau.

And 10 minutes later France were pinned for not releasing, allowing Biggar to double the hosts' lead with his second successful kick.

Plisson halved the deficit in the 33rd minute following a penalty against Dan Lydiate, who paid the price for not using his arms in the tackle.

However, France were put on the back foot late in the half as Gareth Davies broke through from the scrum, with his kick for to the left corner for Liam Williams cleared just in time by Maxime Medard.

Wales could not take advantage of subsequent consecutive scrums from five metres out but were rewarded for more impressive attacking play soon after the restart, Biggar making 9-3 following a tip tackle from France centre Jonathan Danty. 

North then put daylight between the two sides as he benefited from a stroke of good fortune.

The wing had initially failed to make contact with Biggar's perfectly placed kick, but Plisson accidentally knocked the ball back into North's path to touch down.

France responded excellently and piled the pressure on the Wales line, yet they could not break through a determined home defence.

And, after the visitors' spell of dominance came to an end, Biggar added a fourth penalty to make the game safe, with Guilhem Guirado's late try proving nothing more than a consolation for France.