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Page last updated at 21:33 GMT, Saturday, 19 March 2011

France 28-9 Wales

France (11) 28
Tries: Nallet 2, Clerc. Cons: Parra 2. Pens: Parra 3.
Wales (3) 9
Pens: Hook 3.

Wales players in Paris

Highlights - France 28-9 Wales

By Gareth Roberts
BBC Sport Wales at the Stade de France

France ended Wales' scant hopes of Six Nations glory at the Stade de France where the visitors gifted lock Lionel Nallet two tries.

Wales' sin-bin habit also continued -fly-half James Hook this time the culprit - as they finished fourth in the tournament with France second.

Vincent Clerc also went over as France responded to coach Marc Lievremont's harsh words after the defeat by Italy.

Hook kicked all Wales' points as their attacks again lacked a clinical edge.

Ireland's 24-8 win over England in Dublin earlier in the day meant Wales went into the match knowing they had to either beat France by 27 points or run in eight tries in a 26-point victory margin.

That was never going to be realistic on a night when France had to respond to the scathing criticism of Lievremont following their 22-21 loss to Italy in Rome, their first defeat to the Azzurri.

The visitors were a distant second-best as their championship ended by being topped and tailed in defeat, in the opening game by England and in the last in Paris.

Wales also went into the game with controversy surrounding their coaching set-up, defence coach Shaun Edwards having been banned from involvement for the game in Paris after internal disciplinary action.

There were also discipline problems on the field for both sides in the early stages.

Hook and French scrum-half Morgan Parra kicked early goals as the teams sized each other up, with the Wales fly-half also sending his second shot wide.

But at the first time of asking near the French line after Wales put pressure on the home line-out, returning prop Adam Jones went offside at a ruck only five metres from the whitewash.

At the other end, France were equally wasteful after wing Clerc's dash down the right was halted and the ball came left - only for their forwards to repeat prop Jones' misdemeanour.

France were soon back on the attack, giving Parra the chance to kick his second penalty.

From the restart, Alun Wyn Jones was penalised for a high tackle, giving the hosts another chance to build momentum.

Flanker Dan Lydiate proved Wales also had the mettle to stand up to the threat with a bruising tackle on Parra that drew gasps from the crowd.

Players just didn't turn up - Gatland

Lydiate had switched to the open-side after 15 minutes after the in-form Sam Warburton was forced off with an injury, forcing Wales coach Warren Gatland to reshuffle his back-row by sending on Jonathan Thomas.

The visitors created a wonderful chance when, in a rare departure from their usual game plan under head coach Warren Gatland, Hook switched the point of attack from left to right.

Jamie Roberts' superb pass to Lee Byrne gave the full-back the chance to send Leigh Halfpenny away.

But fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc's finger-tip ankle tap brought Halfpenny down and the wing knocked on.

France's forwards, perhaps stung by Gatland's pre-match questioning of their fitness, regularly took more of a hands-on approach than Trinh-Duc at that tackle, driving Wales back from line-outs.

A further such drive gave Parra another penalty shot, but this time he was off target.

But a big mistake by Byrne gifted the initiative to France. He somehow managed to flick the ball in play to prevent a line-out but, instead of then clearing, the Clermont-bound Osprey launched a counter-attack that ended in grief.

Without support and on his own 22, Byrne was halted and stripped of the ball before lock Nallet charged over for a try confirmed by English video ref Graham Hughes. Parra failed with the conversion to leave France 11-3 ahead at the break.

Hook kicked his second penalty soon after the restart, but was charged down by Julien Pierre as he kicked from inside his 22 and away went Nallet for his second try, converted by Parra.

In response, Hook partly made amends with his third successful penalty from 40 metres.

A Trinh-Duc downfield kick tempted Wales' teenage wing George North to attempt to break out.

His youthful enthusiasm was met by a wall of French defenders but his team-mates got back in sufficient numbers to quell the danger only for Parra to kick another penalty from a French counter-attack.

Trinh-Duc took too much time over an attempted drop-goal as the home pressure continued in response to their fans' urgings.

Hook then launched a Welsh counter-attack with a weaving run before sending Byrne on to the offensive but the full-back's run was halted on the home 22 with no support at his shoulder.

However, the Perpignan-bound fly-half was then sin-binned for a dangerous tackle.

It proved costly almost immediately, as Trinh-Duc's brilliant chip was chased and caught by Clerc to run in unopposed.

Wales almost replied when a powerful Jonathan Davies burst took him to within a few metres of the home line but they were again penalised at the breakdown.

North provided one of the night's Welsh highlights with a telling break from inside his 22 to beyond half-way but that also came to nothing as Wyn Jones' overhead pass was snaffled.

Hook was replaced by Stephen Jones at the point he was due to return. With the fly-half making his 99th appearance came scrum-half Dwayne Peel, while prop Jones' energy ran out after 53 minutes of his Test comeback following a two-month injury absence.

Clerc was denied a second try by video referee Hughes after North did enough to put him barely into touch, offering evidence that Wales were at least not willing to throw in the towel despite the inevitable.

France: Maxime Medard (Toulouse); Vincent Clerc (Toulouse), David Marty (Perpignan), Damien Traille (Biarritz), Alexis Palisson (Brive); Francois Trinh-Duc (Montpellier), Morgan Parra (Clermont); Thomas Domingo (Clermont), William Servat (Toulouse), Nicolas Mas (Perpignan), Julien Pierre (Clermont), Lionel Nallet (Racing-Metro), Thierry Dusautoir (Toulouse, capt), JulienBonnaire (Clermont), Imanol Harinordoquy (Biarritz).
Replacements: Guilhem Guirado (Perpignan) for Servat (70), Luc Ducalcon (Castres) for Pierre (66), Pascal Pape (Stade Francais) for Mas (66), Alexandre Lapandry (Clermont) for Harinordoquy (72), Julien Tomas (Montpellier) for Parra (73), Fabrice Estebanez (Brive) for Traille (70), Yoann Huget (Bayonne) for Clerc (75).

Wales: Lee Byrne (Ospreys); Leigh Halfpenny (Blues), Jamie Roberts (Blues), Jonathan Davies (Scarlets), George North (Scarlets); James Hook (Ospreys), Mike Phillips (Ospreys); Paul James (Ospreys), Matthew Rees (Scarlets, capt), Adam Jones (Ospreys), Bradley Davies (Blues), Alun Wyn Jones (Ospreys), Dan Lydiate (Dragons), Sam Warburton (Blues), Ryan Jones (Ospreys).
Replacements: Richard Hibbard (Ospreys) for Rees (67), John Yapp (Blues) for Adam Jones (52), Jonathan Thomas (Ospreys) for Warburton (15), Rob McCusker (Scarlets) for Thomas (71), Dwayne Peel (Sale Sharks) for Phillips (67), Stephen Jones (Scarlets) for Hook (66), Morgan Stoddart (Scarlets).

Sin Bin: Hook (57).

Att: 79,798

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa).

Touch judges: Jonathan Kaplan (South Africa) & Simon McDowell (Ireland).

TV: Graham Hughes (England).

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see also
Gatland reprimands beaten Wales
19 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Wales suspend coach Shaun Edwards
20 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Six Nations final day as it happened
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales recall North for Williams
17 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Williams 'will not go on forever'
18 Mar 11 |  Welsh
Lievremont shrugs off sack talk
15 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six big-name changes for France
13 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations photos
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables
Ireland 24-8 England
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Scotland 21-8 Italy
19 Mar 11 |  Rugby Union
Wales' rugby fixtures
26 Jun 07 |  Welsh
Wales rugby results archive
15 Oct 03 |  Welsh

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