Rugby: France buoyant after mauling Wales

26th February 2007, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Feb 25, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte has hailed the calmness and efficiency displayed by his side in the 32-21 win over Wales that kept "Les Bleus" on track for Grand Slam glory.

PARIS, Feb 25, 2007 (AFP) - France coach Bernard Laporte has hailed the calmness and efficiency displayed by his side in the 32-21 win over Wales that kept "Les Bleus" on track for Grand Slam glory.

The reigning Six Nations champions conceded two converted tries in the first 15 minutes, but dug deep to chip away at the Welsh lead to the effect of 26 unanswered points.

"It was a difficult first quarter of an hour but we kept our heads. That is good for us," said Laporte, whose side had previously beaten Italy (39-3) and Ireland (20-17).

"Wales created a lot of opportunities and they dominated a lot of the early game."

When Wales won the 2005 Grand Slam, the Welsh fell behind at Stade de France before recovering to win a thriller 24-18.

"Two years ago we were crying," Laporte said. "In that game, we were winning and ended up losing.

"We have had some ideas about how to play against them for over a week.

"They could have won this. They created opportunities and scored three tries.

"But I am very happy because it is a third victory and it puts us in a good position in the tournament."

France starved Wales of possession for large parts of the game, and with David Skrela missing only one kick on his way to amassing a personal tally of 19 points, captain Raphael Ibanez was quick to praise his team's poise.

"What's important is that the group had the resources to turn the situation around," the Wasps hooker said.

"We were calm, precise and that's what we have been working at in training.

"They exploited our mistakes at the start of the game and they have dangerous players, we know that.

"We had to act quickly as we could not allow the situation to go on.

"We were aggressive and we had enough to turn it around. We were able to build the phases."

France must now travel to Twickenham to play England on March 11 and then host Scotland a week later in their final two matches.

But Skrela, the France outside-half and man-of-the-match, refused to entertain early talk of a Grand Slam.

"Now we must try and beat England. The Grand Slam? It will be really difficult, but who knows?" he said.

Laporte's Welsh counterpart Gareth Jenkins was full of praise for the France side.

"France were good. They delivered the game I expected of them," said Jenkins.

"They chased well, they have good organisation and they take their points effectively.

"They are a hard nut to crack for anyone. They have won three out of three and they are the tournament favourites, they have got to be."

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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