Wales host France in Cardiff in Round 3 of the Six Nations on Saturday, a big test for Les Bleus who currently top the standings.
Wales v France, Saturday 22nd February, Cardiff, KO 18:45 (South African time)
Referee: Matthew Carley (England)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England) , Karl Dickson (England)
TMO: Graham Hughes (England)
Weather Forecast: N/A indoor arena
Welsh hopes of another Grand Slam ended in Round 2 in Dublin when they were beaten 24-14 by Ireland. They were given 4.5 points start on the handicap but it proved not to be enough and in terms of the standings Wales are in third spot, 4 points behind France and Ireland.
Wales return to Cardiff where they had no problems against Italy in a more than comfortable 42-0 win. Wales led 21-0 at half time and Josh Adams scored 3 of their 5 tries as they cruised past the pre match handicap which had been set at around 22.5 points.
Wales have won 7 of the last 8 heads against France, any competition, any venue.
With a visit to Twickenham and a home game against Scotland to come after this game, Wales can be backed at around 10/1 to retain the title.
Fixtures: R4 England (a), R5 Scotland (h)
France made it 2 wins from 2 when they saw off Italy 35-22 in Paris in Round 2. They come into their first away fixture of the tournament at the top of the standings thanks to a marginally better points difference than Ireland who also boast a 100% record.
In Round 1 Les Bleus wasted little time in getting stuck in to England in Paris, taking control with a 17-0 lead at half time and eventually running out victors 24-17. France had been given around 4.5 points start on the handicap for that game and they kept England scoreless until just short of the hour mark.
In terms of the outright betting France are now trading in the region of 9/4 to 5/2 to win the title and 6/1 for the Grand Slam.
Fixtures: R4 Scotland (a), R5 Ireland (h)
Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Taulupe Faletau, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Ross Moriarty, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Jake Ball, 3 Dillon Lewis, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Leon Brown, 19 Will Rowlands, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Johnny McNicholl
France: 15 Anthony Bouthier; 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou; 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont; 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (captain), 6 Francois Cros; 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Bernard Le Roux; 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille
Substitutes: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Demba Bamba, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Mathieu Jalibert, 23 Thomas Ramos
Recent 6N & RWC Head to Head (any venue)
In October 2019 Wales came through their RWC quarter final match up with France by the narrowest of margins. The final score finished 20-19 in Wales favour with the decisive score being a converted try 5 minutes from time. Wales started that game as 6.5 point favourites but they were 12-0 down inside 10 minutes and 19-10 in arrears at half time. The major turning point came in the 49th minute when a senseless red card saw France reduced to 14 men. Wales cut the deficit to 13-19 on 54 minutes but there was no further scoring until that frantic finale when Ross Moriarty crossed and Dan Biggar converted.
2019 RWC Oita Wales 20-19 France (Tries 2-3)
2019 6N Paris France 19-24 Wales (Tries 2-3)
2018 6N Cardiff Wales 14-13 France (Tries 1-1)
2017 6N Paris France 20-18 Wales (Tries 2-0)
2016 6N Cardiff Wales 19-10 France (Tries 1-1)
2015 6N Paris France 13-20 Wales (Tries 1-1)
2014 6N Cardiff Wales 27-6 France (Tries 2-0)
2013 6N Paris France 6-16 Wales (Tries 0-1)
2012 6N Cardiff Wales 16-9 France (Tries 1-0)
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The Betting - Handicap
Wales -4.5 points at 9/10 Sunbet
France +5.5 points at 9/10 widely available
Note, odds quoted are correct at the time of writing but are subject to change.
This should tell us plenty about France who might be better judged on what they achieved against England rather than Italy. It's a first away fixture for Les Bleus but regardless of venue the last 4 head to heads with Wales have been nailbiters, settled by margins of 1 to 5 points.
I can see it being close again but slight preference is for Wales with the 1-10 winning margin market on the radar.
Bet: 2 units, Wales win by 1-10 points inclusive 2/1 BetXChange - Claim your 1st deposit bonus of up to R10,000 here
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