Match Report

Jelonch try helps France beat Wales to set up Grand Slam shot

Anthony Jelonch scores their first try despite Josh Navidi 11/3/2022
France moved one step away from a first Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam for 12 years after a scrappy 13-9 victory over Wales in Cardiff.

France moved one step away from a first Guinness Six Nations Grand Slam for 12 years after a scrappy 13-9 victory over Wales in Cardiff.

Having beaten Italy, Ireland and Scotland, Fabien Galthié’s side knew victory would leave just England standing in their way on Super Saturday, and they raced out of the blocks with intent.

Full-back Melvyn Jaminet opened the scoring with a penalty before assisting Anthony Jelonch’s try inside the first ten minutes but Wales captain Dan Biggar kicked three penalties to ensure his side only went in 10-9 down at half-time at Principality Stadium.

One more Jaminet penalty was the only score in the second half as Wales were unable to do what France had so painfully done to them last year and end their opponents’ dreams of a clean sweep.


Jaminet kicked France ahead inside three minutes when returning Wales flanker Josh Navidi was penalised at the breakdown following a trademark Antoine Dupont snipe and offload.

But obstruction from Les Bleus immediately gifted Wales the opportunity to level, Biggar making no mistake with his first attempt at goal.

The early exchanges were dominated by kicking but France soon began to display the running rugby that has set this year’s Championship alight.

The increasingly influential Jaminet danced down the left and found wing Gabin Villière, back from injury after being named Player of Round 2 for his dazzling display against Ireland, and he surged into Welsh territory before the ball went quickly over to the right.

A fast and frenzied France attack soon reverted and Gael Fickou’s deft hands found Jaminet in space as he shimmied down the left before feeding flanker Jelonch for the first try of the game inside nine minutes, Jaminet adding the conversion to put France 10-3 up.

France continued to cause Wales problems out wide but it was the home side who struck next when the resurgent Alex Cuthbert darted down the right wing and unleashed a grubber which had Jaminet trapped inside his 22.

And when France infringed under the pressure in front of their own posts, Biggar slotted an easy three points to reduce the deficit to 10-6 in the 17th minute.

Wales grew into the game and eager to diversify the attack, replacement scrum-half Kieran Hardy, on since the tenth minute after Tomos Williams’ head injury, sent up a speculative box-kick that was knocked on deep inside the France 22.

Both sides showed plenty of willing without much end product but there was time for a Dupont jink and offload setting Yoram Moefana away just when nothing appeared to be on.

It sparked a frantic few minutes with both sides chucking the ball around and coughing up possession.

However, the loose play ended abruptly when Wales skipper Biggar perfected his angles to land a huge 50:22, finally giving the baying home crowd what they were after.

Wales came at France for phase after phase until second row Paul Willemse failed to roll away, allowing Biggar to make it a one-point game at the interval from right in front.


France set up camp inside the Wales 22 early in the second half and when Adam Beard strayed offside, Jaminet accepted the straightforward chance to notch his second penalty of the evening to make it 13-9.

But back came Wales, the talismanic Biggar firing his troops towards a lineout on the France five-metre line.

Ryan Elias found his man and after the maul broke off for a second stab at the line, it was the hooker himself who was agonisingly held up, allowing France to clear from the goal line drop-out.

With the finishing line coming into view, the visitors started to show frailties that have not been present in previous weeks, No.8 Gregory Alldritt guilty of needlessly kicking the ball out of the ruck before his teammates strayed offside.

And Wales were doing their best to make the most of the free possession and territory; Biggar’s cross-field kick narrowly failed to find Josh Adams with Jaminet bearing down on him.

A few minutes later and the captain unleashed another which a rampaging Taulupe Faletau gathered and pushed inside to Jonathan Davies but the veteran centre juggled and failed to hold on to the ball with France stretched.

Alldritt’s turnover on his opposite man ended a spell of dominance for Wales that yet again yielded no points and Romain Ntamack almost made them pay, his drop-goal attempt slipping just the wrong side of the upright.

Both teams rang the changes with neither prepared to give an inch going into the final ten minutes.

Wales showed plenty of desire with ball in hand, earning a dangerous scrum on the cusp of the 22 but Ntamack intercepted Biggar’s pass and France won the penalty to take the sting out of the attack.

Jaminet missed the chance to extend the lead to seven points when his penalty from just inside the Wales half sailed wide with three minutes left but it would not matter as their imperious defence held on to go four wins from four.


France hooker Julien Marchand showed all of his brute power and nous at the breakdown, often coming up with a crucial turnover to halt Welsh momentum.

Despite coming under pressure at lineout time, the experienced front rower was a shining light throughout and a key cog in this French team.