Going into their final game of the Six Nations Wales Women were very much the underdogs to their French counterparts. But as has been the case so often this season, they played with passion and a new found belief to record their first ever win over France. However the victory was overshadowed by a horrific injury to Non Evans who was stretchered off with a double break to her leg, causing an hour's delay to the game.
Coming into the game with three successive wins Wales struggled to contain a dangerous looking French side in the early exchanges and soon found themselves trailing 7-0. The French forwards set the platform for Lucie Elodie to cross under the posts after a powerful catch and drive forced Wales deep into their twenty-two. Estelle Sartini added the conversion and France seemed to be taking control of the game and could have been further ahead but for some superb defence, epitomised by captain Mel Berry's try saving tackle on Lucie Elodie. Welsh indiscipline ensured that they remained camped in their own half for long periods and eventually the referee lost his patience and sent prop Louise Horgan to the sin bin for illegally collapsing a maul.
Moments after losing Horgan to the sin bin Wales then lost Non Evans after a seemingly innocuous collision with her opposite number. After waiting on the pitch for an ambulance for nearly an hour, Evans was taken to hospital where it was confirmed she had suffered a double break to her leg. The break in play forced the teams back into the changing rooms, and when they returned to the pitch it was the Welsh who began to force their way back into the game.
Substitute winger Phillipa Tuttiet kicked a 30th minute penalty to give Wales their first points of the game. On the stroke of half time France were reduced to fourteen players as Clotilde Flaugere was sent off for punching.
The second half was dominated by the Welsh forwards who took full advantage of their numerical advantage. France briefly extended their lead through the boot of Sartini, before Tuttiet added her second penalty of the game. Entering the closing stages of the match the French side looked tired and were desperately holding onto a slender lead, but Wales sensed that they had a chance to create their own piece of history. As the clock wound down Wales were awarded a penalty for collapsing a maul. Naomi Thomas kicked deep into the corner and the forwards set another maul. As the drive surged to the right Jamie Kift broke down the blindside and fed to Mel Berry who dived in at the corner to give Wales victory.
Wales finished the Six Nations in second; their best ever position in the tournament and now look forward to hosting Canada in May. The only question left unanswered is why are Wales not in the Women's World Cup later this year. On the evidence of this Six Nations they are more than capable of competing at the highest level and have demonstrated this by beating four teams who will be at the World Cup.
Elen Evans; Non Evans; Rhian Williams; Clare Flowers; Louise Rickard; Naomi Thomas; Mel Berry; Louise Horgan; Jenny Davies; Claire Horgan; Claire Donovan; Liza Burgess; Catrina Nicholas; Jamie Kift; Kylie Wilson
Amy Broadstock; Rhian Bowden; Rachel Brown; Dawn Mason; Amy Day; Rachel Poolman; Philippa Tuttiet
Report by Marcus Leach