Final Score – France 32-30 Wales
Brice Dulin’s 82nd minute try broke Welsh hearts and put France in position to win the Six Nations after an incredible game in Paris.
Trailing 20-30, Dulin had a try wiped out around the hour by Paul Willemse’s red card, but went over in the corner to complete a sensational turn-around, with Wales down to 13 as their discipline deserted them at the crucial time.
Neither side needed time to settle into the game, living up to their billing as the competition’s top two by getting straight into their respective rhythms.
A high tackle from Josh Adams on the illusive Antoine Dupont delivered the first opening.Embed from Getty Images
France kicked for the corner, and after inconclusively driving over once, immediately followed up with a second attempt that saw Romain Taofifenua open the scoring on 6 minutes.
Wales went over twice themselves moments later, as Dan Biggar crashed through on the angle to score a 12th minute try, after a fantastic tackle from French captain Charles Ollivon had held up Gareth Davies at the first attempt.
France responded immediately when the half-back pairing of Dupont and Matthieu Jalibert gathered a Dulin chip over the Wales defensive line three minutes later, the latter feeding the former to touch down under the posts.
Wales worked their way straight back down the other end and Josh Navidi drove across to once again answer on 18 minutes, followed by a fourth successful conversion.Embed from Getty Images
There was hardly a chance to draw breath until opening try scorer Taofifenua went off injured midway through the half, and errors crept in for both sides thereafter.
French hands in the ruck gave Biggar a central kick just inside the 22 to give Wales a first lead on 25 minutes.
Jalibert followed an error in over-kicking the ball dead behind the Welsh posts by receiving an elbow in the face making a tackle and left for a head injury assessment, his replacement Romain Ntamack levelling the scores after the half-hour with a penalty of his own.
France were stronger in the scrum but Wales were dominating possession and making ground with it, and the game reached the half level.Embed from Getty Images
Wales took the lead again with a Biggar penalty before great kicking from Justin Tipuric and Josh Adams led to the Welsh wing scoring their 20th try of the championship, their highest mark, 10 minutes after the restart.
Dylan Cretin did well to get a hand under the ball, but Luke Pearce’s on-field award of the try could not be conclusively overruled by television match official Wayne Barnes, in a game where he was heavily involved.
Ntamack pulled a penalty back but at this point Wales looked the more professional under the leadership of Alun Wyn Jones on his record-148th cap.Embed from Getty Images
Louis Rees-Zammit almost produced a stunning diving finish in the corner, narrowly ruled out by Barnes, but the advantage they were playing with thanks to Mohamed Haouas bringing down a driving maul saw Biggar add three, and the French prop head to the sin bin.
From that point, undermanned-France mounted furious pressure and the Welsh defence became increasingly frantic, with Julien Marchand being held up, and Dulin going over successfully soon after.
However, Willemse’s red card after more lengthy involvement from the TMO, for clearing out prop Wyn Jones in the build-up with an arm round the neck and fingers in the eye, wiped out the score.Embed from Getty Images
With Wales warned for repeated penalties during the previous sequence, Taulupe Falatau was then shown a yellow card to even out the numbers, while Ollivon was this time held up, and quickly the tables turned further as Liam Williams joined him in the sin bin.
Suddenly outnumbered themselves, and their previous discipline evaporated, Wales were unable to keep Ollivon from driving through for a try which Ntamack quickly coverted with just over three minutes to go.
As time ticked past 80 minutes France desperately went in search of one last score, and incredibly they were able to pass wide and find Dulin in space to deliver it.
His bonus-point try denied Wales the Grand Slam, and preserved their own chances of lifting the title with a bonus point victory over Scotland.Embed from Getty Images
Wayne Pivac will still hope to claim an unexpected crown for Wales, with his side showing huge improvements this year, if France fail to get the requisite result on Friday in a game delayed by Covid-19 breaches earlier in the tournament.
Click here for the report of Ireland’s victory over England earlier in the day.