History beckons for improved Wales

Following a devastating defeat at the hands of Ireland two weeks prior to this fixture, Wales inflicted a record demolition in front of a near sell out crowd against France in the latest round of the Six Nations.

In what will undoubtedly be a huge morale boost for Warren Gatland and his men, it is undisputed that Wales deserved their clear victory, however, the French were the constructers of their own downfall.

Both tries for Wales came from French errors, the first being Brice Dulin clattering into his own scrum-half allowing George North to touch down. The second error came from Dimitri Szarzewski, when he left his post around the ruck area and allowed Sam Warburton to stretch over the line.

Wales will still be looking to improve in some areas before they face England. The scrum was weak for both sides as Alain Rolland persistently penalised one of the teams, with Gethin Jenkins and Nicolas Mas seeing yellow simultaneously for repeated collapses of the scrum.

Robin McBryde will be pleased with his pack’s performance at the line out, with the towering Luke Charter’s and Warburton taking the ball well. This allowed Rhys Webb, who was a shock inclusion as Mike Phillips was dropped to the bench, to show his pacey delivery.

Jamie Roberts and North, a monstrous pairing in the centre, were consistent in hitting the line at pace, but failed to display their full potential as Wales opted to wear out the French, rather than offload in the tackle. However, the Welsh defence was impeccable with the ever-threatening Wesley Fofana and man mountain of Basteraud only breaching the Welsh line once.

Overall, Wales were deserved winners and, despite playing a dejected French side, Shaun Edwards will be delighted with the defensive display shown.

Next up for Gatland’s men is a trip to Twickenham to face an England side who have the wind in their sails following an impressive victory against Ireland, which blew the championship wide open.

Wales will be tested by the speed of England’s backs, with Mike Brown in particularly good form at the moment. However, with Billy Vunipola now joining Dan Cole on the injury list, the Welsh pack will fancy themselves up front.

A potential boost is the return to fitness of Jonathan Davies, who would surely slot straight into the starting fifteen, should he be fit, allowing North to return to the wing. Alun-Wyn Jones should also be fit to replace Jake Ball.

Wales will face Scotland on the final day of the Six Nations, where they will be hoping to lift their third successive championship trophy, a feat never previously achieved by any team. After a dramatic victory in Rome, the Scots will be fired up and, if they beat France, they could spoil a potential Welsh party in the Millennium Stadium.

Liam Corcoran

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