Friday, 26 February 2016

Wales v France - Preview

Winger Alex Cuthbert replaces Tom James in one of three Wales changes to the starting XV.

The other changes come in the pack, as flanker Dan Lydiate replaces Justin Tipuric and Bradley Davies stands in for injured lock Luke Charteris.

Winger Djibril Camara makes his debut in one of five changes for France.

Scrum-half Maxime Machenaud, flanker Antoine Burban, lock Paul Jedrasiak and prop Rabah Slimani are the other four fresh faces for Les Bleus.

Warren Gatland
"Everyone talks about French flair and where has the French flair gone? In the past, they had absolute world-class quality players in attack.

"The reason is not so much French flair any more - it's not because they haven't got the players - it's just teams defensively are so organised. There is just no space on the field.

"You get breaks in the game. They are made by someone missing a tackle or someone making a system error - that's where the breaks are. At this level, not many players make mistakes any more and not many players miss tackles.

"Where's the flair gone? Well, we are all trying to be innovative and hopefully trying to create space, but the more you try to be creative in attack, the better teams become defensively as well."

Wales have won their last four Tests against France. This is their best run since they won six in succession between 1952-1957.

France's last win over Wales came in the World Cup semi-final in 2011. They won 9-8 as Wales had Sam Warburton sent off.

Brice Dulin's try in last year's encounter was the first France had scored against Wales since their 28-9 win in the Six Nations in 2011.

Wales are unbeaten in their last six Six Nations games (W5 D1), their best run since winning eight in a row between 2007-09.

France have won three Six Nations matches in a single tournament once in the last four years (2014).

They have lost on their last four trips to the Principality Stadium - this includes two games in the 2015 World Cup against Ireland and New Zealand.

France have had the most carries (224) and made the most metres (795) in the 2016 tournament.

Liam Williams, Alex Cuthbert, Jonathan Davies, Jamie Roberts, George North, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies; Rob Evans, Scott Baldwin, Samson Lee, Bradley Davies, Alun Wyn Jones, Dan Lydiate, Sam Warburton (capt), Taulupe Faletau.
Replacements: Ken Owens, Gethin Jenkins, Tomas Francis, Jake Ball, Justin Tipuric, Lloyd Williams, Rhys Priestland, Gareth Anscombe.

Maxime Medard, Vrimi Vakatawa, Maxime Mermoz, Jonathan Danty, Djbril Camara, Jules Plisson, Maxime Machenaud; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado (capt), Rabah Slimani, Paul Jedrasiak, Alexandre Flanquart, Wencelsas Lauret, Antoine Burban, Damien Chouly.
Replacements: Camille Chat, Uini Atonio, Vincent Pelo, Yoann Maestri, Loann Goujon, Sebastien Bezy, Francois Trinh-Duc, Gael Fickou.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (RFU)
Touch judges: JP Doyle (RFU) & Luke Pearce (RFU)
TMO: Shaun Veldsman (SARU)

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