Rugby: Response delights Gatland

Warren Gatland.
Warren Gatland.

Wales coach Warren Gatland was an unusually happy man yesterday after a try in each half earned a third successive win over France and put them back in the hunt to retain their Six Nations crown.

Wales triumphed 27-6 after Irish referee Alain Rolland, in his last test, had sent three players to the sin-bin in the second half, two of them from the French pack, as the visitors were well beaten at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium.

Gatland had warned his players he wouldn't tolerate another performance like the one that led to a 26-3 defeat by Ireland in Dublin last time out. And the New Zealander was delighted by the way Wales responded against a France side who had been eyeing a Grand Slam.

"I am often grumpy with these guys, but I am happy with that," said Gatland. "They responded well, with a good performance and a fantastic result. We were smashed up front against Ireland, they took us apart and we had to have a good, hard look at ourselves."

French fullback Brice Dulin admitted: "The Welsh learned a lot from their loss to the Irish and were a different side."

Most of the damage was done in the first half, as the Welsh racked up a 20-6 lead by halftime with fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicking five penalties, opening the scoring in the first minute on his way to a 17-point haul.

His only first-half failure with the boot was his conversion attempt for George North's try on five minutes.

Things went from bad to worse for coach Philippe Saint-Andre's men as North harassed fullback Brice Dulin into a mistake close to his line after he had followed a deft kick ahead by Halfpenny.

The ball trickled out of Dulin's hands and over the line and North pounced to make it eight points in five minutes for the home side.

Wales skipper Sam Warburton scored the game's only other try when he crashed over in the 63rd minute.

Rival props Gethin Jenkins and Nicolas Mas were sent to the sin-bin for a collapsed scrum while French No8 Louis Picamoles became the second French forward to be given a yellow card, this time for not rolling away in the tackle.

- AAP

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