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Tireless Wales defence can stifle France flair

High stakes make for tense encounter

Wales flanker Sam Warburton leads the defensive charge against Ireland
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Six Nations
BBC1 & RTE2, 2.45pm Saturday

France are favourites to finish second in the Six Nations behind England, their best finish since 2011, but they could find it a hard slog against an obdurate Wales side in Paris.

Either team could end up second or second-bottom after today’s matches and that could add to the tension in what has so often been a tight affair.

Since France edged the 2011 World Cup semi-final between these nations 9-8 they have met five times in the Six Nations and Wales have won the lot.

But only once has the margin been more than ten points and those five fixtures have produced a total of just eight tries - six for Wales and two for Les Bleus.

France have played with much more freedom this year under Guy Noves and have shown plenty of ambition, although that has not always translated into points.

They scored four tries in their victory over Italy last weekend but that is a tally they have reached on just one other occasion since 2012 and came against a team who shipped five tries to England and nine against Ireland.

Les Bleus are out on their own in the table for metres made with ball in hand  with and impressive tally of 2,257 (England are next best with 2,011) but their try total of six in four matches is joint-lowest in the tournament along with winless Italy.

Wales are a far tougher prospect than Italy and boast the best defence after four rounds of the Six Nations with just 66 points and five tries conceded.

A lot of their defensive effort starts with their tireless back row who are so quick to close down attacks and they can stop France at source just as they did so effectively against Ireland last week.

Final-round matches so often produce a blowout but there is enough at stake to suggest this won't become a free-scoring jamboree and it's worth taking advantage of the high total tries line and taking odds-against that there are no more than four.

The handicap is set at four points which looks about right. Wales have a solid record in this fixture having won the last five but France are on the up and backing a narrow home win could also pay off.

Recommendations
Under 4.5 tries

2pts 11-8 Betfair
France to win by one to seven points
1pt 7-2 Paddy Power

Final-round matches so often produce a blowout but there is enough at stake to suggest this won't become a free-scoring jamboree
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