Wales begin series with loss in Lens


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The Independent Online

France made a winning start to rugby league's autumn international series after overpowering a gallant Wales side 20-6 side in Lens.

Iestyn Harris's men led 6-0 thanks to an early try from full-back David James but they were undone by a three-try burst in a pivotal six-minute spell inspired by man of the match Thomas Bosc just before half-time.

Wales, led for the first time by Craig Kopczak, will now need to beat the tournament favourites England in Wrexham next Saturday to keep alive their hopes of reaching the November 11 final in Salford.

James opened the scoring for Wales afer just 100 seconds to silence the 11,628 crowd at the Stade Felix-Bollaert but France came back with three tries in the final nine minutes of the first-half.

Wales were reduced to 12 men on 50 minutes when Wigan prop Gil Dudson was sin-binned for a late tackle on William Barthau that sparked a flurry of punches and Bosc extended his side's lead with the resultant penalty. However, the Welsh kept their line intact until Dudson returned for the last quarter and they attacked the French line with venom, although without managing to make another breakthrough.