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France survive Wales second half comeback

Wales' Stephen Jones kicks a penalty as France's Thomas Domingo looks on during their match on Friday. (REUTERS)

By Reuters

France took a further step towards claiming the Six Nations championship on Friday when they survived another stirring Wales fightback to secure a 26-20 victory that made it three wins out of three.

Intercept tries by Alexis Palisson and Francois Trinh-Duc plus two Morgan Parra penalties gave France a commanding 20-0 halftime lead at the Millennium Stadium. Wales got back to 20-13 with 20 minutes left via the boot of Stephen Jones and a Leigh Halfpenny try but two penalties by France's replacement flyhalf Frederic Michalak reopened the gap and meant Shane Williams' sparkling try came too late.

France coach Marc Lievremont was able to celebrate three successive victories for the first time since taking over after the 2007 World Cup and two more, at home to Italy and England, will secure their first title since 2007.

"We're split between happiness and relief after that second half because with a 20-point lead to suffer as we suffered in the second half is incredible," Lievremont told reporters.

Wales started well but the momentum shifted after six minutes when Palisson picked off a floated James Hook pass to run 60 metres and score under the posts.

Shane Williams marked his 33rd birthday with his 50th Welsh try, another superb jinking effort which Jones converted, but this time it came too late.


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