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Wales Miss Out On Their Chance For Glory
Posted Mar 23, 2011 by Shaun Edwards
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It’s somewhat ironic for a side that until recently couldn’t buy a win for all the steel in Ebbw Vale, but Wales went into their last Six Nations fixture against France knowing that if they pulled off the game of their lives they could potentially steal the trophy from under Martin Johnson’s nose. It was a bit of a disappointment then, that they ended up being fairly roundly beaten: as a neutral, almost more was expected of Warren Gatland’s side, especially when the old enemy was concerned.
However, as many Welsh fans have experienced over the years, Gatland’s team has a habit of coming back down to earth with a crash, and unfortunately they produced a collapse far more reminiscent of the side that had lost eight on the bounce than the team that had recently strung together three victories and an outside shot at the trophy.
How much their minds were really on the match against France is another debate entirely. Their defensive coach Shaun Edwards (a fine name, incidentally) had not travelled with the team owing to an apparent violent altercation with another member of the staff. Although the matter has been treated as a purely ‘in-house’ issue, Edwards’ well known-influence on the team was not present in the Welsh camp, and you could tell.
Despite taking an early lead almost from the kick off due to the French gifting them a penalty, the Welsh couldn’t really offer much. The French, it had to be said, were similar with neither really waking up despite a single, burning run from the lock forward Lionel Nallet that sent them into half time with a 11-3 lead.
After the lead was briefly narrowed following another Hook score, Wales didn’t seem to be able to bring anything else to the table, and from the moment the restart lead to Mallet scoring a quite unlikely pair of tries, they seemed to sink back into their former selves, unable to offer the necessary fight that could bring them back into the game.
The game was more or less summed up by Hook’s sending to the sin-bin following a reckless tackle on Morgan Parra, and the resultant pass that landed exactly where the Welsh kicker would have been had he still been on the pitch. As it was, Vincent Clerc took the ball over the line to all but confirm the French victory.