Dupont inspires France to beat Wales 38-21 in 6N warmup

SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — Eight months after winning in Cardiff during the coronavirus-hit Six Nations, France beat Wales 38-21 at home on Saturday thanks to two tries from inspired scrumhalf Antoine Dupont.

This test was a warmup for the delayed last round of the Six Nations next week. France can still win it by beating Ireland, which downed Italy 50-17 earlier Saturday as the tournament restarted in Dublin.

Wales suffered a fourth straight loss for the first time since 2016.

France beat Wales 27-23 in Cardiff before the pandemic halted the competition, but neither side was well prepared for this contest.

“We won with one training session and managed to score five tries against the Welsh, that’s pretty good. That’s what should be remembered,” France coach Fabien Galthie said. “I hope we gave some pleasure to the French fans who could not come here.”

Wales was straight into the French at Stade de France, however, with fullback Leigh Halfpenny scoring the opening try after 58 seconds. Flyhalf Dan Biggar converted and slotted a penalty for 10-0, only to totally lose his range later on.

France hit back just 10 minutes later when flyhalf Romain Ntamack combined with Dupont, who was held up near the line, and prop Cyril Baille followed up to burrow over.

Then, winger Teddy Thomas broke down the right and fed Dupont inside and France’s second try arrived when center Virimi Vakatawa burst through the middle and offloaded for the charging Dupont to dive between the posts.

Ntamack converted all three tries to make it 21-13 at the break.

After Biggar’s radar went off target with two missed penalties, Thomas patted down a lineout and Dupont burst through the defense before feeding captain Charles Ollivon for a converted score under the crossbar.

France’s defense then got sloppy and allowed prop Nicky Smith to charge over the line.

Thomas then showed the flair that keeps getting him selected despite his inconsistency, collecting a pass down the right and chipping over the head of Biggar before collecting and running in for another converted score, giving Ntamack six out of six on the night.

“We were very good,” France center Gael Fickou said. “We made too many mistakes on the ground, that’s the big area where we need to improve on.”

On a disappointing night for Wales, captain Alun Wyn Jones equaled the world record for test rugby appearances with his 148th cap — 139 for Wales, nine for the British and Irish Lions — to match retired New Zealand great Richie McCaw.

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