Reuters

France win Six Nations

France win Six Nations, Ireland take triple crown
By Reuters

18/03/2006 at 18:19Updated

France won the Six Nations trophy when a late Florian Fritz try earned a 21-16 victory over 2005 champions Wales on Saturday. France have eight points, the same as Ireland who beat England 28-24 later in the day, but the French hold a better point differe

Jean-Baptiste Elissalde's conversion put France ahead for the first time in the match and his penalty in the dying minutes rounded off the favourites' victory.

It is France's 15th title after they recovered from losing their opening game in Scotland.

France coach Bernard Laporte, whose side set a new French record of 18 tries in the tournament, said: "The strength of this team is not to lose their heads. I want to congratulate the whole group."

Wales, last year's grand slam winners who ended up with only three points, moved out of the shadows of the injury and off-field woes that have spoilt their championship defence with a passionate performance.

They pinned France in their own half for the first quarter and threatened several times to go over before centre Hal Luscombe's try just past the half hour.

Williams managed to pass one-handed over his left shoulder to Luscombe, who scored.

Flyhalf Stephen Jones's conversion was his third success out of three after two penalties, giving Wales a 13-6 haftime lead.

France scrumhalf Dimitri Yachvili, replaced by Elissalde five minutes into the second half, was also 100 percent accurate with his boot, putting over two penalties.

FRENCH TRIES

In the second half, a fine diagonal cross-field kick from the right to the left corner by wing Aurelien Rougerie set up the lineout from which replacement hooker Dimitri Szarzewski scored France's first try. Elissalde hit the post with his attempted conversion.

Gavin Henson, in his second appearance of the tournament, this time as replacement fullback for Lee Byrne, kicked a superb penalty from just inside the French half.

Leading 16-11, Wales were denied a try 10 minutes from the end when Michalak was deemed, following consultation with the video referee, to have made a saving touchdown in the corner ahead of Shane Williams.

"The luck was not with us. That's rugby, those decisions can go either way," said Wales coach Scott Johnson. "But I'm not John McEnroe, I don't complain about every line call."

Lock Robert Sidoli will remember Fritz's try for many years.

The Welshman was back covering for Henson who had followed a high kick up the field, and Sidoli knocked a French kick into touch unnecessarily.

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