Six Nations 2017: Wales have 'gone up a gear', says George North

Six Nations: France v Wales
Venue: Stade de France, Paris Date: Saturday, 18 March Kick-off: 14:45 GMT
Coverage: Live on BBC One Wales & S4C, BBC Radio Wales, BBC Radio Cymru & BBC Sport website and BBC Sport app, plus live text commentary.

George North says Wales hope to finish on a Six Nations high against France on Saturday, after "going up a gear" to end Ireland's challenge in Cardiff.

Winger North went over twice as he and his team-mates responded to the criticism that followed losses to England and Scotland.

"I think the way we played showed what we can do. We went up a gear," he said.

"For me, I am just happy to be back playing with a bit of confidence and a bit of form."

The win ensured Wales will be in the top-eight ranked teams at the 2019 World Cup draw, to be held in May.

North takes Wales try tally to 30

North, 24, says Wales will look to continue their revival in form at Stade de France "individually and as a team".

On a personal front, the Northampton player was also happy to have "put it right" against Ireland.

A brace of scores took North's international tally to 30 tries in 68 Tests, fourth in an all-time Wales try scorers' list led by Shane Williams on 58, followed by Gareth Thomas, 40, and Ieuan Evans, 33.

George North and Jamie Roberts
George North and Jamie Roberts are British and Irish Lions

North scored in Wales' 33-7 opening win against Italy, but a dead leg suffered in that game meant he missed the defeat by England in Cardiff that followed.

He returned for the loss against Scotland at Murrayfield and was among the players singled out by pundits, fans and coaches for criticism.

"I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform in the Scotland game, and I didn't get going at all.

"It was disappointing, and I was just thankful to get a chance [against Ireland] to put it right and get back into some form.

"We knew we could play a lot better than we had been doing," North added.

Wales in the 2017 Six Nations
Sunday, 5 February: Italy 7-33 Wales
Saturday, 11 February: Wales 16-21 England
Saturday, 25 February: Scotland 29-13 Wales
Friday, 10 March: Wales 22-9 Ireland
Saturday, 18 March, 14:45 GMT: France v Wales

Centre Jamie Roberts came off the bench to score Wales' decisive late try and said it was "great to see North back at his fiery best".

Roberts added: "That guy is pretty special when's he's smiling, when he's bouncing around the place like a kid and I couldn't be prouder of George.

"He's taken a lot of stick in the last few weeks and by his own admittance wasn't at his best up in Scotland."

Harlequins player Roberts added: "The lads answered a question. The last two weeks have been difficult - we haven't played our best, certainly against England and Scotland.

"We showed a lot of character. We certainly tried our best to try to find a way to lose it at the death - and we always do; that's Welsh rugby for you."

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