Wales complete Grand Slam

Alex Cuthbert

Wales celebrate

First published in National Sport News © by

Wales secured a third RBS 6 Nations Grand Slam in eight seasons as Alex Cuthbert's first-half try saw them battle their way past France 16-9 at a jubilant Millennium Stadium.

Wales had trailed to an early Dimitri Yachvili penalty when giant three-quarter Cuthbert stepped inside and beat four defenders on his way to the line for a sensational solo score.

Leigh Halfpenny added the conversion and three penalties to seal the win, meaning further three-pointers from Yachvili and Lionel Beauxis were not enough for France.

The victory served as a fitting tribute to former Wales captain Mervyn Davies. A minute's silence was held in memory of the 1976 Grand Slam skipper before kick-off following his death on Thursday.

Wales made the initial running but there was an impressive commitment and organisation about the French defence, though, and they dug themselves out of trouble to allow Yachvili an 11th-minute penalty chance that he accepted.

Rhys Priestland missed a shot at goal before the home side snuffed out a dangerous French attack, moved upfield at pace, and then after spinning possession wide, Cuthbert angled his way to the line after a 30-metre run when he beat four French defenders. Halfpenny's conversion put them 7-3 in front.

Halfpenny then added a penalty eight minutes before the break as Wales threatened to hit their straps, and France were forced into a change when injured full-back Clement Poitrenaud was replaced by Test debutant Jean-Marcel Buttin.

Wales appeared unsettled by captain Sam Warburton's early exit due to a shoulder injury, and a Beauxis penalty after 45 minutes cut the gap to four points, prompting Les Bleus' best attacking spell of the game when they stretched their opponents in all directions.

But Wales somehow kept their line intact, and when Halfpenny booted a monster penalty from 51 metres - evoking memories of the one he missed by inches in the World Cup semi-final - it restored a seven-point advantage.

The final 10 minutes were inevitably fraught from a Welsh perspective, yet they kept their composure and held on with Yachvili and Halfpenny exchanging penalties before the mother of all rugby parties could commence.

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