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World Sport

Wales shock France in Six Nations


PARIS, France -- Martyn Williams scored two tries early in the second-half as Wales staged a stunning comeback to beat France 24-18 at the Stade de France and remained on course for their first Six Nations grand slam since 1978

France led 15-6 at halftime after tries through scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili and right wing Aurelien Rougerie

But Williams turned the game and man-of-the-match Stephen Jones kicked 14 points, including a penalty and drop goal after the sides were tied 18-18.

The Welsh, eager to confirm their new status as the best attacking side in Europe, after scoring six tries in their first two championship matches, launched the first wide attack.

France countered immediately and, after several phases of fast play, Yachvili dummied his way through the Welsh defense and crossed over for a try which he converted.

Rougerie contributed a second try when he dived over in the right-hand corner after a swift backline movement.

Wales got on the scoreboard in the 23rd minute through a 35-meter penalty by Jones before a searing break from centre Yannick Jauzion set Yachvili up for an easy penalty three minutes later.

After Jones kicked his second penalty, the French reached halftime with a 15-6 lead and went back to the dressing room saluted by chants of "Les Bleus, Les Bleus" from the crowd who had booed them during the opening game against Scotland.

Fans silenced

But the home fans were soon silenced after the restart when William scored twice in six minutes. Jones added a conversion and Wales took the lead for the first time at 18-15.

Gavin Henson failed to make it 21-15 when he missed a long range penalty but Wales were now on top and France faltered as Bernard Laporte sent on hooker William Servat, prop Olivier Milloud, centre Jean-Philippe Grandclaude and fly-half Frederic Michalak.

Wales captain Gareth Thomas had to leave the field with a suspected broken thumb.

Michalak dropped a goal to level the scores in the 64th minute but Jones then kicked his third penalty.

The game flowed from one end to the other and Jones coolly landed a dropped goal to put the visitors ahead by six points.

France exerted tremendous pressure was for the rest of the game and Wales had to survive three scrums within their own 10 meters and several waves of blue attacks before earning a well-deserved lap of honor.

A minute's silence was observed before the game in memory of former France captain and flanker Jean Prat, who died on Friday aged 81.


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