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Stephen Ferris: Flying France hold aces in Wales showdown

| 11.03.2022

Ladbrokes ambassador Stephen Ferris casts his eye over the games from the fourth round of the Six Nations, starting with tonight’s clash between Wales and leaders France, who are 2/7 favourites to win in Cardiff.

Wales v France (Friday, 20.00, BBC/S4C)

It’s Friday night lights at the Principality Stadium in Cardiff, where Wales host the unbeaten tournament favourites France.

Welsh fans will be finishing work and heading towards the bars and city centre to savour some of the pre-match atmosphere. The French fans will have the day booked off and will be travelling in huge numbers to hopefully cheer their team on to four successive wins.

Who would be betting against them after they produced a second-half masterclass against a tired and burnt-out Scotland? Not me.

Wales have this uncanny ability to dig deep when everyone else thinks they have little or no hope of winning a test match. A couple of weeks ago Scotland travelled to the Welsh capital as favourites for the game. Eighty minutes later they trudged off the pitch with their tails between their legs having been outworked.

Rassie Erasmus sent out another one of his tweets after the England vs Wales game in round three. It read, “This is what makes Wales such a difficult team to beat”. Attached to his tweet was a clip of Dan Biggar’s cross field kick in the 77th minute which led to a small line break. They rarely give up and they rarely let themselves down. We all have bad days and they certainly did against Ireland, however you have to give the Welsh lads credit. They have bounced back really well in this year’s championship.

France are the only team in the competition who haven’t needed to bounce back from a defeat. They are three out of three and on course for a Grand Slam. Get Wales done and dusted and France will be playing at home against England for the trophy that has eluded them since 2010.

Many people, myself included, thought that France would slip up at some stage during this championship but they have looked the real deal. They have so much strength in depth and so many players who are at the top of their game. Most importantly, they are a well-coached machine who are hungry for work and there seems to be an attitude shift also.

France haven’t had it easy during this tournament having been forced into some positional changes especially in their back line. Gabin Villiere, who scored a hat-trick against Italy and the winning try v Ireland, unfortunately missed out on their trip to Scotland. Yoram Moefana, a centre by trade, has found himself on the wing, but has adapted seamlessly and was ridiculously good in the last game.

Their back row has shuffled around but it doesn’t really matter too much as everyone involved has been brilliant. The foundation of French rugby has been dug and filled with some pretty heavy-duty concrete. Let’s see if they can continue to build on their dream with a big performance against Wales.

Prediction: France to win by 10-19 points @ 3/1

First try: Paul Willemse @ 25/1

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Warren Barner