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Friday, 14 December, 2018

Home comforts favour Wales in clash with France

Score could mount in Cardiff with hosts in expansive mood

Wales centre Hadleigh Parkes has beaten more defenders than any other play in this year's Six Nations
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Six Nations
BBC1 & TV3, 5pm Saturday

France may feel they have turned around their Six Nations fortunes after last week's success over England but they could come off second-best against a Wales side looking to finish on a high in front of their own fans.

Beating the reigning champions and ante-post favourites ought to count for a lot, but France have mixed so much that is good with so much that has been ordinary in this campaign, and they are yet to prove themselves away from home in a tournament that has favoured home sides more and more.

The return of Mathieu Bastareaud has made a big impact for France, not just for his ball-carrying power but his contribution at the breakdown.

But Wales are a team moving forward too. They kicked off the year with a sign of what they are capable of as they stunned Scotland 34-7 and this run of matches has seen them evolve into a side with considerably more depth and options.

There is a stark contrast in these teams' home and away records. Since the start of the 2012 tournament Wales have won 14 of 17 home Six Nations matches, losing twice to England and once to Ireland. France, by contrast have won just two of their last nine away, both in Italy.

France will need to be as proactive and dominant at the breakdown if they are to deny Wales quick ball as they did England last week, and that looks a tough target against a solid Welsh unit.

Wales’s attempt to move to a more expansive, running game is reflected in the tournament stats as inside centre Hadleigh Parkes leads the way for defenders beaten with 15 and winger Steff Evans has made the most line breaks with ten.

This could defy the pattern of past games and turn into a high-scoring affair, but Wales look to have enough to edge it.

Recommendation
Wales to win by one to 12 points
2pts 17-10 BoyleSports


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Wales’s attempt to move to a more expansive, running game is reflected in the tournament stats
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