Dan Biggar (right) set up George North's crucial try
Wales got back to winning ways at the Stade de France on Saturday as George North's late try guided them to a 6-16 win in their RBS 6 Nations encounter with France.
With England the only side unbeaten after two rounds of this year's competition, Wales' defence of their 2012 crown now looks altogether more feasible ahead of trips to Italy and Scotland and a tantalising meeting with England in Cardiff.
Leigh Halfpenny added three penalties and a conversion to seal the win for Rob Howley's side in a much improved performance by the men in red.
And prompted by Mike Phillips and Dan Biggar at halfback, Wales ground out a vital win which will see them travel to Rome a week on Saturday in confident mood.
Amid a number of impressive performances, Phillips' physicality suited the game perfectly. The scrum half was at his spiky best as he took on a physical French pack. It seems les Bleus bring out the best in the Bayonne man as he probed around the base of the ruck, a constant menace to the opposition back row.
One early break set up a great platform for the Welsh forwards and although the ball was knocked on in contact a few phases later, Phillips' intent was clear.
With the game dominated by the contact area on a poor pitch, Phillips' aggressive intent was exactly what Wales needed and another clean break just seconds after the break caught the French napping.
The former Ospreys man could have been pleased with his performance after leaving the pitch to be replaced by Lloyd Williams with little less than 10 minutes remaining.
Another Wales man, who still calls the Liberty Stadium home, also enjoyed a solid performance. Given the injury to Rhys Priestland, Dan Biggar looks set for a run as Wales' first choice fly half and he showed plenty of signs in Paris that he is more than capable of running a game for his country.
Biggar's sublime chip through for North's late try not only won the game for Wales but was also the one moment of pure class in a game dominated by the boot and forward battle.
There were other positive signs. A huge clearance kick gave Wales field position deep inside the French half from where Halfpenny put his side's first points on the board while when the ball did go wide, Biggar's confident hands were always looking to release the likes of North and fellow wing Alex Cuthbert.
In a game where the score was locked at 6-6 for most of the second half, the halfbacks' control of the game was vital and Phillips and Biggar both stood up to be counted.
Like the rest of the Wales side, they will now be eagerly looking ahead to the clash in Rome a week on Saturday.
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Wll Jones leads Wales U18s into battle this afternoon against Italy where the Welsh side will be seeking to bounce back from their narrow defeat to SA Schools in their opening clash of the U19 International Series
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The WRU is searching for 12 new rugby development apprentices following a successful first year of its WRU Coach Core programme. Craig Duncan and Jess Hancock have flourished in the first year of the programme which has given them a real direction in their lives.
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