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Parra handy to pile woe on Welsh; RBS 6 NATIONS.

France 21

Wales 16

WALES last night blew their chances of clinching back-to-back Grand Slams.

They had surged into a 13-3 lead but were stunned by a fantastic French comeback in Paris.

Wales' defeat in the first Six Nations match to be played on a Friday also ended their bid to equal France and England's joint record of nine wins in a row in the tournament.

They were in control when full-back Lee Byrne's try and eight points from the boot of fly-half Stephen Jones earned a comfortable advantage.

But the French battled back to justify coach Marc Lievremont's selection that gave a debut to 20-year-old Matthieu Bastareaud in the midfield, with centre Benoit Baby at fly-half and novice Morgan Parra handed goalkicking duties.

Parra slotted three penalties and a conversion as France edged the try-count through flanker Thierry Dusautoir and wing Cedric Heymans.

Substitute James Hook kicked a late Wales penalty but France were good value for the win that Lievremont so badly needed.

Both sides can still win the championship but unbeaten Ireland now appear to be in control ahead of today's home game against England.

Wales coach Warren Gatland felt his side had paid the price for too many individual errors. He said: "Too many mistakes from us.

At the end of it we have to give the French full credit because they deserved the victory.

"We had a chance to sneak it and at 13-3 up we should have been a bit more clinical.

We weren't good enough.

"I think emotionally they were a bit more desperate to win than we were.

"They wanted it a bit more and sometimes that happens."

France's win eased the pressure on Lievremont and No.8 Imanol Harinordoquy hailed the spirit of his team.

He said: "We showed another face. We came out with spirit to show what we can do. After two not very good matches, tonight was another France and I hope we can continue like this."
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Daily Record (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Feb 28, 2009
Words:329
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