Six Nations 2015: France 13-20 Wales

By Dafydd PritchardBBC Wales Sport at Stade de France
Wales hold nerve to beat France
France (3) 13
Try: Dulin Con: Lopez Pens: Lopez (2)
Wales (6) 20
Try: Biggar Pens: Halfpenny (5)

Wales kept alive their Six Nations title hopes with a hard-earned 20-13 victory against France in Paris.

Leigh Halfpenny kicked two penalties as Wales edged a tight first half 6-3, but the game burst into life after an hour.

Dan Biggar crossed for a slick Welsh score only for France to hit back with Brice Dulin's try in the corner.

Another Halfpenny penalty eased Welsh nerves as they sealed a fourth straight win over France for the first time since 1957.

Having lost to England on the opening weekend, Wales knew only a win would suffice for them to have a chance of claiming a fifth championship in 11 seasons.

Dan Biggar scores a try for Wales
Dan Biggar scored his first international try as Wales opened up a 17-6 lead

And following their latest Parisian triumph - a fifth win in nine visits to Stade de France - they host Ireland on 14 March with their title dreams intact.

Wales assistant coach Rob Howley said beforehand they would be on "red alert" defensively, wary of a French side they expected to adopt a more expansive approach than in previous matches.

The omission of juggernaut centre Mathieu Bastareaud did not hinder their physicality, however, as Yoann Huget set the tone for a confrontational start with a thumping tackle on opposing wing Liam Williams.

Emotional St Andre unhappy with performance

Wales centre Jamie Roberts was prominent as a battering ram in midfield, and the away side's forays into French territory were rewarded as two Halfpenny penalties either side of one from Camille Lopez put Wales 6-3 up.

Genuine scoring opportunities were at a premium, although France thought they had the opening try after half an hour, only for Huget's touchdown to be disallowed for a forward pass.

Wales then threatened as George North galloped into the French 22 but, after that period of pressure yielded no points, the visitors could count themselves fortunate to lead at half-time as Lopez missed two penalties.

The fly-half redeemed himself with a penalty early in the second half but Halfpenny's third soon restored Wales' lead.

After an hour of attrition, Warren Gatland's side extended their advantage with a stylish try.

Scrum-half Rhys Webb made the initial sniping break before passing to flanker Dan Lydiate, whose deft sleight of hand allowed Biggar to scamper over in the corner.

It took only seven minutes for France to strike back, their forwards pounding the Welsh line before the ball was spread wide for Dulin to squeeze over for a first French try against Wales since 2011.

Halfpenny soothed fraying Welsh nerves with another penalty, before the visitors had to withstand a late flurry of French pressure to secure a memorable victory.

George North is tackled by Brice Dulin
George North returned to the Wales line-up following his recovery from concussion

France: Dulin, Huget, Lamerat, Fofana, Guitoune, Lopez, Parra, Ben Arous, Guirado, Slimani, Taofifenua, Maestri, Dusautoir, Le Roux, Chouly.

Replacements: Bastareaud for Lamerat (17), Tales for Fofana (70), Tillous-Borde for Parra (52), Debaty for Ben Arous (52), Kayser for Guirado (52), Atonio for Slimani (52), Suta for Taofifenua (61), Goujon for Chouly (74).

Wales: Halfpenny, North, J. Davies, Roberts, L. Williams, Biggar, Webb, Jenkins, Baldwin, Lee, Charteris, Jones, Lydiate, Warburton, Faletau.

Replacements: Priestland for Biggar (74), James for Jenkins (71), Hibbard for Baldwin (70), Jarvis for Lee (79), B Davies for Charteris (70), Tipuric for Warburton (70).

Att: 80,000.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (South Africa).

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