France Wales Six Nations Rugby
France's Damian Penaud scores a try during the Six Nations rugby union international match between France and Wales, at the Stade de France in Saint Denis, outside Paris, Saturday, March 18, 2023. (AP Photo/Christophe Ena)
rugby union

France beats Wales 41-28 in Six Nations


Defending champion France completed its Six Nations campaign by scoring five tries in an entertaining 41-28 win against Wales on Saturday but failed to retain its title after Ireland defeated England.

Right winger Damian Penaud grabbed two tries and fullback Tomas Ramos was perfect with his kicking as Les Tricolores took their tournament try tally to an eye-watering 21.

Wales started strongly and took three attacking lineouts over penalties, scoring off the third when scrumhalf Rhys Webb pinged a quick pass to center George North, who went over for a converted try.

It was North's 23rd in the tournament's history, taking him one ahead of former Wales winger Shane Williams and three behind all-time record holder Brian O’Driscoll of Ireland.

France's response took just two minutes.

Flyhalf Romain Ntamack carved a hole in midfield with elusive running and offloaded to halves partner Antoine Dupont, who looped a clinical pass to Penaud on the right wing.

The Welsh came to play and it took France until the 26th minute to lead through Ramos' penalty.

But with the recalled Uini Atonio dominant in the scrum, another penalty soon followed before France stretched the Welsh line with quick passes to allow Penaud to send center Jonathan Danty over on the right wing for a converted try and a 20-7 interval lead.

Atonio's first try on his 50th test came four minutes after the restart, when he barged over the line after being set up by the quick-thinking Dupont and Ramos. Just five minutes later, France opened up Wales again and Danty freed Ntamack to feed center Gaël Fickou for France's fourth try.

Wales' bench finally ended France's 34-point run when replacement hooker Bradley Roberts burrowed over from close range after flanker Justin Tipuric stole possession, and replacement scrumhalf Tomos Williams got Wales's third try with Tipuric involved again.

Ramos set up Penaud's second try in the right corner late on but both players went missing when Wales got a bonus point with a last-gasp fourth try from replacement winger Rio Dyer, converted by veteran Leigh Halfpenny.

No. 8 Taulupe Faletau played his 100th Welsh test.

Wales won the tournament two years ago, but won only once this year — 29-17 in Rome last weekend. The Italians finished 0-5 for the wooden spoon after losing 26-14 in Scotland earlier Saturday.

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