France 20 Wales 18: 100th-minute try gives hosts win after extraordinary finish

James Corrigan
Louis Picamoles celebrates following his side's dramatic win - AFP or licensors

It was the 100-minute match which finally consented to reach its conclusion. Wales were deservedly beaten in the game in which time stood still, in which  20 minutes injury time were place, which became so interminable that officials in Dublin were forced to delay the kick-off of Ireland versus England, the Six Nations finale which was supposed to end a full 20 minutes after the match in Paris had finished. 

France versus Wales in 2017, threatened never to end.

But it did and for France it gave them rich hope of finishing runner-up the Championship table, their best placing in six years. For Wales, it killed the ambition of leapfrogging Ireland into fourth place in the rankings, before the World Cup draw in May.

The contest at the Stade de France rumbled on into the 100th minute following a series of reset scrums Credit: BENOIT TESSIER/X02011

In truth, that would have been a quite ridiculous status for a team who could only rely on Leigh Halfpenny’s unrelenting radar. There were no tries for the visitors and what fire the Dragons could muster was almost wholly in resistance. 

Yet they eventually ran out of puff - they had to - after being camped for so long on their own line they should have been eligible for Council Tax. As spirited as it might have been, Wales only had themselves to blame.

They conceded 10 points in the first 15 minutes and were so far from the races then they might still have been at the Cheltenham Festival, where some of the squad enjoyed their day off on Wednesday.

Wales led through most of the second half thanks to the boot of Leigh Halfpenny  Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images

After seven minutes, the centre Remi Lamerat was put in for a try near to the post after a terrific chip over the rushing defence by Camille Lopez. And when the outside-half nailed a penalty to make it 10-0, it seemed a long way back. But the English referee, Wayne Barnes, made the journey that much shorter by showing a controversial  yellow card to Virimi Vakatawa.

It was not that the wing was particularly innocent – he was not -  and with another official in charge he could easily have also given away the penalty try, as Liam Williams seemed sure to finish off Dan Biggar’s pass. It was just that Jonathan Davies had enacted the same crime earlier and Wales had escaped with only a knock-on.

Anyway, it all allowed Halfpenny to go to work with that machine of a boot of his – his second effort from 50 yards was one of the game’s highlights - and with three penalties, he drew his team within a point at the halfway mark.

Centre Remi Lamerat opens the scoring for France

The French rugby team do not injustice very well and after Barnes started penalising a scrum which had been in utter dominance early on, so their heads appeared to drop every time the man with the whistle raised his arm for a Welsh penalty. And Halfpenny kept on kicking.

Alun Wyn Jones had to be replaced with almost 30 minutes remaining, but they seemed to have coped without their leader and inspiration. Yet then came the denouement, which seemed to last longer than all that had gone before with Barnes repeatedly calling foul on Welsh infringements at the five-metre scrum but steadfastly, and bafflingly, refusing to award the penalty try. 

Samson Lee, the Welsh prop, actually had time to be yellow carded in injury time - and still come back on. Damien Chouly was the hero who crashed over and handed all of the observers their lives back. Lopez made the winning conversion and it was warranted.

5:34PM

Lions Watch

An agonising loss for the Welsh, but some positive performances nonetheless.

George North confirmed his return to form with some strong defence. The work of Warburton and Tipuric was vital in slowing down French ball and frustrating their attack...for 99 minutes at least.

Ken Owens and Liam Williams were solid enough and should be in the squad through the consistency of their performances alone.

And Leigh Halfpenny reminded everyone of why he was so integral to the Lions' series win Down Under, kicking impeccably from the tee.

5:27PM

Table as it stands

The Ireland England game has got under way in Dublin. It's a penalty apiece as it stands. You can follow James Stafford's live blog here.

5:17PM

Wayne Barnes at the centre of an extraordinary end to the game

5:14PM

France celebrate

France celebrate their victory after Yoann Maestri goes over for the winning score Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

5:08PM

Alun Wyn Jones on the Slimani/Atonio substitution

I think someone will have to look at it. The officials will have to review that.

Two wins from five is not good enough for us. We felt we did enough over the 80 today.

It was 100, Alun Wyn. 100 minutes.

Martyn Williams calls it gamesmanship: "'Cheat' is a strong word."

5:06PM

Understatement of the year goes to...

Thomas Casteignede: "That's not normal."

The game ends in farce after a succession of reset scrums Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/ AFP/Getty Images

5:03PM

Lopez CONVERSION 100 min: France 20 - 18 Wales

France win it in the most absurd, inexplicable, brain-warping fashion possible.

5:02PM

Maestri TRY 100 min: France 18 - 18 Wales

Maestri finally drives over following consistent pressure from the forwards. Lopez has this kick to win it and it's very central...

5:00PM

100 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Dupont tries to wriggle free. Another penalty advantage. France a metre short. The ton is up...

4:59PM

99 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

AND ANOTHER

Please, someone, make it stop.

4:58PM

97 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Big drive from the French scrum brings another French penalty and a reset.

What is the longest game ever?

Nicky Smith comes on in the 97th minute.

We have an issue with the fourth official and there's another stoppage. Even Waynes Barnes sounds like he's come to his wits end now.

4:56PM

95 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

So, we have a further pause as the TMO is consulted. No conclusive footage.

In the meantime, amuse yourselves...

4:54PM

94 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

France go left and Nakaitaci is tackled short. Another penalty advantage coming. Loose pass collected by Fickou who runs the ball up to the five metre line. No advantage.

Here we go again. My sanity is draining.

To top it off there's an allegation of a bite. Barnes says there is clearly a mark on George North's arm. Maestri claims North did it himself. Could this get any weirder?

4:51PM

90 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Yes, we are now into 90 minutes...

4:50PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Another penalty quickly taken by Picamoles. The ball is knocked on but we're back for the penalty advantage. Presumably we'll go back for another scrum and do the whole dance all over again.

Go on, Camille, just take the three points, please.

4:49PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Two more resets...

I hand over to Twitter

4:47PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Another penalty for "too much weight" from the Welsh front row. Word-for-word, that is what Barnes said. The clock hits 87. What on earth is happening?

4:45PM

Lee SIN BIN 80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Nakaitaci is almost put through a gap by Lopez but the Welsh defence holds strong. Another penalty advantage coming. The ball is held up over the line. Yellow card coming out for Samson Lee. Barnes is confused. Can Thomas Francis come back on in the front row or are we to have an uncontested scrum? Was he injured or was he replaced? No one knows and Barnes' French isn't good enough to consult with his assistants. Wonderful scenes.

Uncontested would suit Wales down to the ground, but Francis is deemed fit enough to return to the fray.

Will this game ever end?

4:41PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Good scrum from France. Picamoles scragged by Webb. France with the ball a couple of metres out...

4:40PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Another reset. The clock goes red. Atonio is deemed unfit and Slimani comes on in his place. Better scrummager is Rabah. Brian Moore is sceptical of the timing. How cynical of you, Brian.

4:38PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

The scrum is set not once but twice. Wayne Barnes with a big decision coming up. The next scrum will surely be the last play of the game...

4:36PM

80 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Slow ball for France and they pick-and-go through their forwards. Three metres out with the penalty advantage. No advantage. Long discussion between the brains trust deliberating over line out or scrum. It's the latter: five metres out and just right of centre. 30 seconds to go...

4:34PM

79 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Picamoles takes France to within 10 metres of the Welsh line. Lopez switches direction and Dupont is up to the five metre line...

4:34PM

78 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Another rock solid scrum for France gives Fickou the platform for a dart. France rumble into the Welsh 22. Big passage of play coming up...

4:33PM

78 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

A combination of Webb, Biggar and Warburton rip the ball from Camille Chat. They put the boot in but the ball rolls dead and it's a scrum back.

Julien Le Devedec on for Vahaamahina.

4:31PM

76 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Biggar in no rush to take the penalty. When he does find touch France turn the ball over from the resulting line out. Time running out for the home side. They need a converted score to put them ahead.

4:30PM

75 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Ross Moriarty back on for Scott Baldwin as a blood replacement. Faletau moves into the second row. All sorts of shuffling in the Welsh pack.

Camille Chat is on for Guirado. Dupont on for Serin.

France look dangerous following a well set scrum but Vakatawa fumbles just as the field opens up. Deemed to have gone backwards but Wales awarded a penalty at the breakdown.

Justin Tipuric claims line out ball Credit: Byrne/INPHO/REX/Shutterstock

4:26PM

Halfpenny PENALTY 72 min: France 13 - 18 Wales

Welsh penalty as Guirado is penalised for a high tackle on his opposite number Owens. Guaranteed 3 points for Halfpenny in front of the posts.

He probably converted that with his eyes closed. 

4:24PM

71 min: France 13 - 15 Wales

Wales content to shift the ball between their forwards around the 22. Warburton and Tipuric then alternative strong carries and Wales creep towards the five metre line.

4:22PM

69 min: France 13 - 15 Wales

Wales get the better of the restart this time. A good chase from George North puts the French clearance under pressure. Charteris wins line out ball on the 22.

4:21PM

Lopez PENALTY 67 min: France 13 - 15 Wales

Wales can't collect the restart and France are able to charge towards their line. Samson Lee is penalised for offisde and that's a gimme for Lopez.

4:20PM

Halfpenny PENALTY 65 min: France 10 - 15 Wales

Never in doubt. Wales extend their lead.

"They're in this position because of their defensive efforts," says Moore. "They've stifled the French attack."

Halfpenny extends Wales' lead Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images

4:18PM

64 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Another Welsh penalty in range of Halfpenny's boot. Vahaamahina correctly penalised for tugging Tipuric's arm as the flanker went to claim Owens' throw.

4:17PM

63 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Faletau, on for Moriarty, steals French ball and Wales counter. Liam Williams kicks forward but France scramble well. Here we go with the ping pong again, but Dulin slices a clearance and Wales win that exchange. They have a line out in the French half.

4:15PM

61 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Damien Chouly is bundled into touch. France attack a bit too predictable at the moment.

"Lacking in guile," says Brian Moore, which is a bit rich from him.

Brice Dulin escapes the attention of Liam Williams

4:14PM

60 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Wales have done an excellent job of slowing French ball at the breakdown. Serin again forced to put boot to ball, gaining only a couple of metres, but the ball comes back on the French side. Tipuric puts in a huge hit on Lopez and France go backwards until Serin gets in a better kick to find touch inside the Welsh 22.

Neither side able to grab this game by the scruff. It's a greasy scruff.

Jamie Roberts has come on for Scott Williams. Jake Ball is off injured and Scott Baldwin the hooker covers in the second row. Alun Wyn of course went off injured earlier. Wales' line out options are curtailed. Samson Lee replaces Thomas Francis.

4:10PM

58 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Jonathan Davies puts in a cute grubber to the corner but Brice Dulin and Yoann Huget combine superbly to run France back up to their 22 under intense pressure. France throw the ball from right to left, playing with fire. It's good hands through the backs and they're up to half way.

4:08PM

57 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Good work by France from the line out, preventing Wales from getting the ball to the back of the maul. Guirado throws into the line out but the ball is turned over. Wales dominating that contest at the moment.

Rob Evans carries Wales into the French half.

4:07PM

56 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

Damien Chouly on for Sanconnie. Ben Arous and Atonio into the front row.

That contest for full back is fierce.

4:06PM

Halfpenny PENALTY 54 min: France 10 - 12 Wales

15 metres in from the right hand touchline and a metre or so in from half way. Nailed.

Wales take the lead.

Leigh Halfpenny kicks Wales into the lead Credit: Huw Evans/REX/Shutterstock

4:04PM

53 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Welsh scrum looks to be under pressure but the French front row are pinged for wheeling. Brian Moore says it's the right call on this occasion and I'm not in the mood to argue.

Halfpenny lining up a monster...

4:02PM

51 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Scott Williams drops the ball in midfield before Vakatawa does the same from a Rhys Webb chip. The game continues its fractured path through this second half.

A word from Martyn Williams:

It's scrappy, physical. Neither side can get it through the phases. This half hasn't caught light. The next score is crucial.

Alun Wyn Jones is unable to recover from an earlier knock and Luke Charteris is his replacement. Warburton back the captaincy.

3:59PM

49 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Huge scrum for Wales and this time it's the visitors who are awarded the penalty. Biggar gets his side up to half way. Chest thumps from the Welsh pack.

France steal line out ball and it's with their forwards just in front of half way. Ball remains slow and boot is put to ball once more. Good work from the Welsh back row, disrupting French momentum at the breakdown.

3:57PM

47 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Thomas Francis penalised for wheeling. What do France do here? They reset. Welsh front row under serious pressure.

The squeeze is on...

3:55PM

46 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Webb's clearing kick is charged down by Guirado and France take it quick after Wales are penalised for crossing. The ball goes wide to Dulin and the deliberate knock on rears its ugly head again. But Halfpenny is deemed to punched the ball out of Dulin's hands in the act of tackling, so it's a scrum only to the French - about 10 metres out from the Welsh line. The right call this time. Halfpenny's eyes on the man.

3:52PM

44 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Play restarts with a French line out claimed by Sanconnie. Wales do well to repel the initial drive. Tipuric and Moriarty combine well to knock back a French attack and Serin puts boot to ball with France going nowhere.

Dulin winning the earlier contests for his side at present. More kicking tennis before Lopez gets bored and smacks it out of play. Line out on half way.

Gael Fickou on the run for France Credit: GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

3:49PM

43 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

Liam Williams is run into touch by the French defence. Possession changing hands with regularity in the early stages of this second half.

Alun Wyn Jones is down and requiring treatment.

3:48PM

41 min: France 10 - 9 Wales

We're back underway. Big collision between Brice Dulin and Dan Biggar but Barnes deems it a fair competition for the ball. Halfpenny then does well to cover a kick through from Fickou.

Jonathan Davies of the commentator variety has not re-emerged for the second half. He's croaked it.

Biggar and Dulin compete in the air Credit: Farmer/INPHO/REX/Shutterstock

3:45PM

Controversial calls

All sorts of controversy over that Barnes decision. Questions asked as to why Wales weren't awarded a penalty try if the knock on from Vakatawa was deemed deliberate. No defender in sight to tackle George North who was ready to pounce. But most don't think it was deliberate in any case and can't fathom how Davies' offence was any different. Got it?

Even the best referees can get it wrong occasionally.

3:41PM

Martyn Williams on George North

He's got the energy. It's what he's done without the ball is impressive. Big hits and key turnovers. Not many key runs but he's worked hard, which is invaluable to the team.

Thomas Casteignede reckons France need to generate quicker ball and take better advantage of their turnover ball.

George North power through the French defence Credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

3:37PM

Barnes accused of inconsistency

The former flank thinks Jonathan Davies should have been yellow carded for a similar offence to Vakatawa's earlier in the game. Both yellows, or neither are yellows, is the gist of the verdict.

Dan Biggar appeals to referee Wayne Barnes following a deliberate knock on from Virimi Vakatawa Credit: Byrne/INPHO/REX/Shutterstock

3:34PM

Game hangs in the balance

"Flashes of brilliance mixed with some really poor rugby," says Martyn Williams of the Welsh performance.

3:32PM

HALF TIME France 10 - 9 Wales

All Wales now as Jonathan Davies and Liam Williams carry their side back up to the French 22, but they surrender possession once more. Slack work at the breakdown for the visitors and Serin pops the ball out and to bring about half time.

A bit of earlier flair from the young scrum half:

3:30PM

Halfpenny PENALTY 40 min: France 10 - 9 Wales 

I'm a rich man now.

3:29PM

39 min: France 10 - 6 Wales 

Wales playing the penalty advantage as Slimani is deemed offisde. None coming and Barnes marches back to mark the spot in front of the posts. I'll bet a full shilling Halfpenny slots this.

3:27PM

37 min: France 10 - 6 Wales

But Trinh-Duc misjudges a kick and puts it dead. Welsh scrum back in French territory.

He really is banging on about it is Moore, but the feed is pretty whacko from the scrum halves...

3:26PM

37 min: France 10 - 6 Wales

Overthrown but Trinh-Duc is able to gather. Loose pass from Serin is pounced upon by his opposite number Rhys Webb. Dan Biggar opts to keep the ball infield with his clearance and France kick it back. Halfpenny...to Trinh-Duc.

Ping.

Pong.

3:24PM

35 min: France 10 - 6 Wales

George North misses an opportunity to put his wide runners into space and cuts inside instead. His error is compounded as he is held up by French defenders and France are awarded the put in at the scrum. The hosts win the penalty as Rob Evans is penalised for collapsing. French front row dominating at the moment. France have line out ball inside the Welsh 22.

3:22PM

33 min: France 10 - 6 Wales

Serin darts round a ruck and slips a backhanded offload to Gael Fickou. George North earns a penalty at the following breakdown as France are pinged for holding on.

Lopez is off for an HIA. Trinh-Duc on his place.

Camille Lopez is met with the full force of the Welsh defence Credit: FRANCK FIFE/AFP/Getty Images

3:20PM

32 min: France 10 - 6 Wales

Biggar rides the tackle of Camille Lopez who stays down. Rob Evans then slips through a tackle and Wales spread it wide to Liam Williams and Moriarty down the left wing.

That sin binning has allowed Wales to grow back into the game, but France time steal the ball again, this time Gourdon's the man.

France up to the Welsh 22 with Guirado. Vakatawa back on the field.

3:17PM

Halfpenny PENALTY  29 min: France 10 - 6 Wales

Sweet strike from Halfpenny just in front of half way. Wales chipping away at France's lead as Vakatawa's due back imminently.

3:17PM

26 min: France 10 - 3 Wales

Biggar drills a kick out wide to George North who gathers. Wales trying to add width to their play but France earn another turnover and Lopez sends it high to Biggar who regathers. Jake Ball carries his namesake up to half way and Wales are awarded a penalty after Vahaamahina, the hoarder of 'a's, is penalised for offside.

Jonathan Davies has finally gone off injured for the BBC.

3:14PM

25 min: France 10 - 3 Wales

Serin is back on for Dupont. Not quite sure what all that was about, sorry.

3:13PM

25 min: France 10 - 3 Wales

Nakaitaci escapes a couple more tackles - the count racking up already for the Welsh. The wing is finally shepherded into touch by a combination of Justin Tipuric and Liam Williams.

Four minutes remain on Vakatawa's bin-time.

3:12PM

24 min: France 10 - 3 Wales

Positive marching maul for Wales. A good ten metres gained and they're up into the French half. Lamarat steals the ball and punts it back to the Welsh backs who opt to counter, but Halfpenny spills and France have the ball again. A little to-and-fro as the visitors can't quite string their phases together.

Kevin Gourdon has a dart for the French Credit: Michael Steele/Getty Images

3:09PM

Halfpenny PENALTY 21 min: France 10 - 3 Wales

Plenty of whistles for Halfpenny but he is unperturbed, curling it through the uprights.

Wales have a man advantage and points on the board.

3:08PM

20 min: France 10 - 0 Wales

Controversial call here from the officials. Vakatawa is binned after it was deemed to be deliberate. No penalty try as they couldn't be sure North would score.

Brian Moore thinks the decision harsh. Not a popular decision within the Stade de France.

Antoine Dupont, the 20-year-old Castres scrum half is on for Baptiste Serin.

3:06PM

19 min: France 10 - 0 Wales

Wales have their first meaningful foray into French territory. Biggar takes the attack right and a flailing French arm knocks the ball on. Wales screaming for a deliberate knock on, but Vakatawa looks to have been in the motion of the tackle when he tipped the ball forward. Looked similar to the earlier decision at the other end but the TMO is having a look. George North would have been in for an easy score...

3:03PM

Lopez PENALTY 17 min: France 10 - 0 Wales

Lopez continues his impeccable record from the tee but his side make a hash of the restart. The ball spilled backwards but they just about scramble back and Brice Dulin clears.

3:02PM

16 min: France 7 - 0 Wales

Penalty to France from the scrum. Wayne Barnes says both Evans and Francis went down. Brian Moore reckons it was Baille who dropped his bind.

Remi Lamarat puts France ahead Credit: AFP or licensors/GABRIEL BOUYS

3:00PM

13 min: France 7 - 0 Wales

Strong scrum from the French front row and Picamoles peels away before putting Vakatawa away who has a clear field ahead of him up to the Welsh 22. Serin, Lopez and Nakaitaci interplay down the right before Wales turn the ball over on their five metre line. Biggar clears.

Breathless start, the hosts looking dangerous early doors, but Twitter is interested in one thing and one thing only.

2:56PM

11 min: France 7 - 0 Wales

Ross Moriarty spins away from a Welsh scrum on the French 22 but the ball is turned over from the following ruck. France send the ball back to the Welsh back three. Webb has a dart down the blindside but the supporting players can't quite get their in support. Tipuric knocks on.

There is no way Jonathan Davies is making it through the full 80 here.

Camille Lopez puts boot to ball Credit:  GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP/Getty Images

2:53PM

Lamarat TRY Lopez CONVERSION 7 min: France 7 - 0 Wales

Lopez puts over a perfectly waited chip and Lamarat runs onto it and collects before dotting down. No fullback at home - Halfpenny still out wide from the previous phase. Clever spot from the fly half.

Two missed tackles in the build up from Wales. Avoid the gaze of Shaun Edwards at half time.

Extras from Lopez in front.

2:51PM

6 min: France 0 - 0 Wales

Guirado overthrows and Wales scramble it back. Biggar clears his lines.

Jonathan Davies is sounding incredibly hoarse on commentary. Big St Paddy's night for him, clearly.

2:50PM

6 min: France 0 - 0 Wales

Kevin Gourdon escapes the tackle of Liam Williams and runs France into the Welsh 22. France move the ball right and Wales are penalised for a deliberate knock on. Lopez kicks for the corner. Hosts dominant in the opening exchanges.

2:49PM

4 min: France 0 - 0 Wales

It has the accuracy but not quite the legs. We stay at double doughnuts.

2:48PM

3 min: France 0 - 0 Wales

Gael Fickou has an early run, taking France up into the Welsh half. The centre gets his hands on the ball again and puts through a grubber but Halfpenny is alert to it. The full back puts the ball back to half way.

There's a penalty advantage coming to France and Wayne Barnes takes the game back when he sees nothing's coming. Warburton penalised for offside.

Lopez has an early opportunity for points. About five metres inside half way but fairly central....

2:46PM

1 min: France 0 - 0 Wales

Dan Biggar puts the ball up. George North tips the ball back but France gather the loose ball. Lopez clears. 

2:42PM

Terror attack at Paris airport

There are lots of empty seats at the Stade de France. Reports of a terrorist attack at the airport means that fans may not have been able to get to the stadium in time. Seemingly no civilian casualties, thankfully. 

2:25PM

Lions watch

Who else has put their hand up for a ticket to New Zealand?

Leigh Halfpenny was Man of the Series down under but needs to back-up a revived showing against Ireland in order to stave off stiff competition from Stuart Hogg, Rob Kearney and Mike Brown.

Sam Warburton and Alun Wyn Jones will be among those battling it out for the captaincy. George North is a shoe-in and Liam Williams has made a strong case. Rhys Webb is surely guaranteed a place in the squad but will want to push for a starting spot. Then there's Tipuric, Faletau, even Moriarty. Can Dan Biggar stake a claim? 

The list is endless, but time is running out.

2:12PM

Ken Owens set to win his 50th cap for Wales

Ken Owens might be Welsh, but he's no daffodil. A late bloomer in rugby terms, the 30-year-old hooker has taken his time to make his mark on international rugby, but "Cannonball Ken" has impressed with his consistency, putting himself into the Lions reckoning against expectations.

Credit: Rex Features

 You can read the full report of what Rob Howley had to say of Owens' 50th cap in James Corrigan's report, but here's a taster:

He’s been outstanding and has certainly put his hand up for the end of the season tours. He gives players confidence around him and is a     great senior player with experience. He has a great opportunity [to make the Lions]. He just needs to concentrates on his process and what he needs to do against France.

1:48PM

Bittersweet memories

This is a fixture with bittersweet memories for the Welsh. They are currently on a five-game winning run against the French, but their last defeat was perhaps their most painful in recent history - a 9-8 reverse in the 2011 World Cup semi-final at Eden Park.

Wales played 61 minutes without their skipper, Sam Warburton, who was controversially sent off for a tip-tackle on Vincent Clerc, prompting Eddie Butler to declare: "this rugby law is an ass."

Recent tightening up on such tackles means there would surely be little argument about it now, but the real story of that night was the dawn of a new pack "young and fearless" Welshmen, ready to take on the rugby world. Warburton, George North, Leigh Halfpenny, Jonathan Davies and Taulupe (or Toby, as he was then) Faletau were among the emerging stars of that tournament and have formed the bedrock of the national side ever since.

Now the talk is of the end of that era. With only three debutants since the 2015 World Cup, there were calls for fresh blood until last week's victory over Ireland got Welsh veins pumping once more. 

But the Dragon is not out of its cave just yet. A defeat today would represent Wales' worst return in the Six Nations since 2010 and put paid to their hopes of entering the top four of the IRB rankings in time for the World Cup draw. The Championship may be over, but there is still much to play for.

1:46PM

Preview

When and where is the game?

Wales face a trip to Paris and the game is on Saturday, as are the other two Six Nations clashes. 

What time is kick-off?

The game gets under way at the Stade de France at 2.45pm. 

What TV channel is it on? 

BBC One and BBC One HD or you can also listen to live commentary on BBC Radio 5 live. Or of course, you can follow Telegraph Sport's live blog right here for updates, analysis and reaction. 

What is the team news? 

France make one change from the XV that won handsomely in Rome as Sebastien Vahaamahina returns from injury to replaced Julien le Devedec at second row. 

France XV: Dulin; Nakaitaci, Lamerat, Fickou, Vakatawa; Lopez, Serin; Baille, Guirado, Slimani; Vahaamahina, Maestri; Sanconnie, Gourdon, Picamoles.

Replacements: Chat, Atonio, Ben Arous, Le Devedec, Chouly, Dupont, Trinh-Duc, Huget.

Six Nations team of the week - matchday four

Wales have named an unchanged team for the third 

Wales XV: Halfpenny; North, Davies, S Williams, L Williams; Biggar, Webb; Evans, Owens, Francis, Ball, Wyn Jones, Warburton, Tipuric, Moriarty.

Replacements: Baldwin, Smith, Lee, Charteris, Faletau, G Davies, S Davies, Roberts. 

Three key stats

1. A Wales victory be the first time they have won three straight away games in France for 50 years.

2. A Wales win could also be enough to secure the runners-up spot for the second successive year. 

3. France and Wales have met 88 times and the aggregate points stand at 1,262 to 1,229 in France's favour. 

Six Nations 2017 fixtures, dates, kick-off times and TV schedule

What are they saying?

Guy Noves: 

"We have a pair [at half-back] that has been working together on the long run. It is interesting, even if Francois Trinh-Duc has come back from an injury.

"We saw that Wales were able to prevent Ireland from playing their game with a huge defensive pressure. For sure, they are ready."

Rob Howley: 

"I was delighted for the players about Friday's result and performance, and they deserve the opportunity to build on that in our final RBS 6 Nations encounter.

"The experience we showed and the intensity we brought to the match was hugely important, and that will be just as important as we face a good France team at home.

"We put pressure on ourselves and turned that pressure into a result.

Wales coach Rob Howley Credit: PA

"For us, there are areas of the game we want to work on from Ireland, and we have an opportunity to do that on Saturday and finish the campaign with another quality performance.

"The players who took to the field at the Principality Stadium deserve the opportunity to start, and we were pleased with the impact from the bench, so will be looking for the same this weekend."

What are the odds?

  • France 8/13
  • Wales 7/4
  • Draw 28/1

What's our prediction?

We're going for France to edge a close contest in Paris by a single score. 

Verdict: France 21 Wales 17

Rugby world rankings

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes