France fall just short of world record in breathtaking Wheelchair rugby league opener

Wheelchair rugby league World Cup Credit: Alamy
Wheelchair rugby league World Cup Credit: Alamy

France came within four points of matching the world record for a wheelchair rugby league World Cup victory as they powered to a 154-6 win over Wales.

The two-time world cup winners were ruthless from the very first whistle, though Lionel Alazard proved particularly deadly as his haul of six tries devasted the Welsh defence.

The 40-year-old, who became his nation’s joint-top World Cup try scorer during the match, bagged first effort of the game in the opening minute as ha capitalised on a pass out wide from Jeremy Bourson before touching down in the corner.

Just 120 seconds later, Alazard had his second. Florian Guttadoro sent the ball forward while his teammate outpaced the Welsh team before crossing the tryline.

Another minute ticked by as France scored their third through captain Gilles Clausells. Alazard completed his third successive conversion to make it 18-0.

Wales momentarily stopped the rot and went on the attack themselves. Scott Trigg-Turner had an opportunity but lost control of the ball just before the line. Gary Preece also had a chance though his charge down the wing was brought to a halt by Alazard.

From then on came a flood of French tries. Les Bleus were simply relentless as they crossed the 50- point mark after just 22 minutes.

Alazard was once again among the try scorers as he completed his hat-trick in a quarter-of-an-hour.

The highest ever score recorded in the competition was set by France in 2013 when they beat Scotland 154-2. It became apparent that the record was for the taking as the French side continued to rack up points at a phenomenal rate.

Wales did score a try of their own on the half-hour mark however, the opening half belonged to their opponents who led 96-6 at the break.

The Dragons put on a slightly improved defensive showing after the restart, though that didn’t stop France from extending their advantage.

However, Wales’ efforts were enough to prevent their opponents from breaking the tournament’s winning margin record.

Full time: France 154-6 Wales

Wales: Stephen Halsey, Scott Trigg-Turner, Gary Preece, Jodie Boyd-Ward, Stuart Williams. Bench: Lucie Roberts, Martin Lane, Harry Jones, Andrew Higgins, Mark Williams
Tries: Jones. Goal: Halsey

France: Lionel Alazard, Gilles Clausells, Mostefa Abassi, Jeremy Bourson, Julien Penella.
Bench: Florian Guttadoro, Guillaume Mautz, Arno Vargas, Jonathan Hivernat

Tries: Alazard 6, Clausells 2, Guttadoro 2, Bourson 5, Penella 3, Abassi 6, Vargas 2, Hivernat 2. Goals: Lionel Alazard 13, Florian Guttadoro 4, Julien Penella 6

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