The final game of the 2023 Six Nations will see Ireland try to seal a grand slam on home turf for the first time. Only old rivals England stand in their way.
Ireland have claimed three grand slams in their long history but not one of them has ended in Dublin, which promises to make this St Patrick’s Day weekend all the more special for the men in green, providing they can see off an England team in crisis.
Andy Farrell’s Ireland are the undisputed No 1 side in the world and have swept aside all-comers during the championship, while England have struggled to consistently improve the tailspin they found themselves in towards the end of the Eddie Jones era, under new coach Steve Borthwick.
Decent wins over Italy and Wales were immediately forgotten as they suffered a record home defeat to France at Twickenham last time out, being completely outclassed by a rampant Les Bleus and leaving them in no doubt where they stand in the pecking order just six months out from a World Cup. If they can bounce back to beat an unstoppable-looking Irish team at the Aviva Stadium, then it will go down as one of the all-time great Six Nations shocks.
Follow live coverage from the Aviva Stadium below after the conclusion of France vs Wales:
France 10-7 Wales, 29 minutes
Welsh hands get to Julien Marchand’s throw, but knock it on. France’s scrum inside the Welsh 22.
Wyn Jones’ elbow hits the deck – penalty to the hosts. Jones shakes his head.
France 10-7 Wales, 28 minutes
A horrible moment all-round from Wales. Rhys Webb completely misses Dan Biggar with his pass after the fly-half drops back to prepare for a long clearance, and Louis Rees-Zammit then kicks out on the full.
PENALTY! FRANCE 10-7 Wales (Thomas Ramos penalty, 26 minutes)
Thomas Ramos rewards his Toulouse teammate’s breakdown scavenging with three points, putting France into their first lead of the afternoon.
France 7-7 Wales, 25 minutes
Wales throw another of those swift lineouts to the front, two forwards connecting well and allowing Rhys Webb to kick long.
But this is potentially bad news for Warren Gatland: Alun Wyn Jones is being removed having been called for an HIA by the doctor. Daffyd Jenkins on.
And that has been coming – Julien Marchand wins a breakdown penalty.
France 7-7 Wales, 24 minutes
France’s jackalers are just starting to disrupt Wales’ ball, forcing more red shirts to pile in to each breakdown and leaving their side under-resourced elsewhere. Dan Biggar has only Justin Tipuric with him as he attacks the blindside, with the flanker forced to hold his chase having been ahead of his fly-half as Biggar props ahead. Jonathan Danty flips the field with a right-footed riposte.
France 7-7 Wales, 22 minutes
Aside from Damian Penaud’s brilliant score, France haven’t quite found their attacking fluency. A fumble on the right allows Wales to hack a loose ball ahead, with Rio Dyer haring after it.
Ethan Dumortier and Antoine Dupont extricate themselves from a bit of a predicament, and the scrum-half clears to touch.
France 7-7 Wales, 21 minutes
Down the burly men go in a heap again but Antoine Dupont is ordered to play the ball away. He does, and Romain Ntamack clears.
The fly-half fails to find touch but it matters not, with France’s chase perfectly formed and Romain Taofifenua getting in over the top to win a holding on penalty.
France 7-7 Wales, 19 minutes
Justin Tipuric reaches back to claim Ken Owens’s long lineout throw, just about retaining possession as he comes back down to earth.
Taulupe Faletau and Tomas Francis combine intricately to send Tipuric into a soft shoulder. Alun Wyn Jones seeks something equally extravagant, holding the ball in one hand and palming it towards George North. The centre spills the lock’s offload.
France 7-7 Wales, 19 minutes
Just a penalty – the officials are satisfied that Fickou has not driven the veteran lock into the floor, and a relatively soft landing means there is no need for a card.
Wales still impressing, though – this has been their best 20 minutes of the championship so far.
France 7-7 Wales, 18 minutes
France try to work Damian Penaud into the line from their lineout launch play, but the hands aren’t quite precise enough, and the wing spills.
Eek – that looks like a slightly dangerous challenge from Gael Fickou, lifting and driving Alun Wyn Jones into the ground. Joy Neville in the TMO truck will be employed again.
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