Win keeps Wales in title race: Gatland

CARDIFF • A hard-fought 19-10 victory over France might not have been convincing, but it means Wales remain in the running for the Six Nations rugby union title, according to coach Warren Gatland.

Dan Biggar kicked four penalties and converted George North's crucial 47th-minute try to pull Wales out to 19-3, before France skipper Guilhem Guirado crossed for a late consolation try to save his side's blushes.

The result left Wales well in contention for the Six Nations title, having opened with a 16-16 draw with reigning champions Ireland before seeing off Scotland (27-23).

Next up on March 12 is an away trip to England before a final home game against Italy.

"Victory today keeps us in the championship. If we had lost, we would be out of it," Gatland said.

"There's still all to play for in two weeks. Our defence was outstanding, our set piece was good again and we were good in the air.

"It's going to be a really tough Test match in two weeks' time. But Twickenham is a great stadium and we love playing there. We have to have the confidence and self-belief that we're able to do it."

Counterpart Guy Noves was left to rue a first defeat since taking over from Philippe Saint-Andre after France's disastrous World Cup campaign, which ended at the hands of New Zealand in the quarter-finals.

He admitted that North's try was "the big turning point of the match".

The Wales winger capitalised on a deep Jonathan Davies kick, showing great pace to get to the ball. But a comical moment saw North miss tapping the ball on, only for the covering Jules Plisson to toe-poke it into his path for a pick-up and slide over for a try.

"The biggest difference was on the counter-attack. For the try, it was because we gave away the ball," said Noves.

"That try allowed the Welsh to take confidence. It was a difficult way to concede a try, especially after the spirit we showed in the first half to go into the break at only 6-3 down.

"After the try, the break was made. But the lads showed a desire to play, they stuck at it right to the end."

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on February 28, 2016, with the headline 'Win keeps Wales in title race: Gatland'. Print Edition | Subscribe