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Look North for Wales inspiration in Six Nations tie with France

| 20.02.2014

Friday night Six Nations rugby returns to our screens when ailing champions Wales host a lively looking France outfit, but there’s plenty of reasons to get behind Warren Gatland’s men at 8/13 now they’re back at the Millennium Stadium.

Wales went down to a surprisingly one-sided 26-3 defeat in Dublin, against an Ireland team with realistic championship credentials of their own, and Gatland summed the match up with beautiful simplicity afterwards when stating: ‘We were well beaten up front, weren’t we?’.

The Red Dragons’ much-lauded pack came a poor second against Ireland, whose key forwards will have spent the last fortnight in bubble wrap ahead of their Twickenham clash with England.

However, back on home soil Wales will have too much in reserve for a Les Bleus side that hasn’t won a Six Nations match outside France for two years.

They haven’t won much since Philippe Saint-Andre left the comfy confines of Toulon to answer his country’s call after the 2011 World Cup in New Zealand.

A sole autumn international victory at home to Tonga followed four consecutive losses to the All Blacks, with South Africa completing France’s November misery shortly afterwards at the Stade de France.

While Saint-Andre’s side come into this match off the back of wins in their first two matches of the tournament against England and Italy, the rugby gods were on Les Bleus’ side against Stuart Lancaster’s boys, whose patched-up and callow back line had the French in all kinds of trouble before Gael Fickou’s game-saving 78th-minute try.

They’ll face a far more experienced XV at the Millennium Stadium, although Rhys Webb comes in for dropped scrum-half Mike Phillips, while Liam Williams starts on the wing with Lions hero George North moved into inside-centre in Jonathan Davies’ absence.

North’s main remit will be to keep an eye on France tank Mathieu Basteraud, but the Northampton flyer’s 15 tries in 37 appearances for Wales make his 3/1 odds of going over at some point in this match a great value punt.

Only the Irish have won a Six Nations match in Cardiff in the last three years, so expect a sense of order to be restored and back Wales at 8/13 to beat France.

All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.

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Alex Fortune