France left it late to snatch the lead and steal the match in the final round of the 2006 RBS Six Nations. Over 74,000 fans in Cardiff's Millennium Stadium watched Wales lead for nearly 70 minutes of a tense and fast-paced match, but a try for Florian Fritz and a conversion and penalty from Jean-Baptisite Elissalde made the final score 21-16 to the visitors.
It was a cruel end to the campaign for Scott Johnson's side. Despite missing a host of players through injury, Wales were competitive throughout and could have - but for the bounce of a ball here and there - quite easily have won this match. Special mention goes to stand-in scrum-half Mike Phillips. He made four significant gain-line breaks on his way to winning both the Man of the Match award and the respect of everyone inside the Millennium Stadium.
It was Phillips's penetrating run into the French 22 after just two minutes that gave Wales's outside half Stephen Jones the field position to kick for goal when Les Bleus were penalized at the resulting ruck. That kick gave Wales a 3-0 advantage, but scores were levelled five minutes later when Dimitri Yachvili slotted home the first of his two first half penalties.
Hal Luscombe scored a try to remember on 32 minutes, his dart down the touchline preceded a fine pass to Shane Williams, the little wing twisted, turned, and off loaded in the tackle to Luscombe who scored his second try in 15 tests. Jones converted to send the home side in 13-6 to the good and with hope of securing what would have been a confidence boosting victory.
But the second half scoring belonged to France, aside from a 45 metre penalty kick from replacement fullback Gavin Henson and despite Elissalde missing a potential of eight points with his wayward kicking, the French left Cardiff as victors.
Their final position on the RBS Six Nations table is dependant on the result of England vs Ireland.
FRA Pen: J-B Elissalde (78 mins)
FRA Con: J-B Elissalde (74 mins)
FRA Try: Florian Fritz (73 mins)
WAL Pen: Gavin Henson (55 mins)
FRA Try: D. Szarzewski (47 mins)
FRA Pen: Dimitri Yachvili (38 mins)
WAL Con: Stephen Jones (33 mins)
WAL Try: Hal Luscombe (32 mins)
WAL Pen: Stephen Jones (26 mins)
FRA Pen: Dimitri Yachvili (12 mins)
WAL Pen: Stephen Jones (5 mins)
Wales: Byrne; James, Luscombe, Watkins, S Williams; S Jones, M Phillips (Blues); Dun Jones, R Thomas, A Jones; Gough, Sidoli; Owen (capt), M Williams, Popham Replacements: Davies, Jenkins, J Thomas, Daf Jones, A Williams, Robinson, Henson
France: Castaignede; Rougerie, Fritz, Traille, Dominici; Michalak, Yachvili; Marconnet, Ibanez, De Villiers; Pelous, Thion; Nyanga, Bonnaire, Lievremont Replacements: Szarzewski, Milloud, Nallet, Magne, Elissalde, Valbon, Heymans