Rugby League: Wales are rescued by Webster's late dash: Superior French side are denied victory by Davies' late kick as Warrington coach waits on injury report from Ninian Park before picking side to keep up title challenge

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The Independent Online
Wales 13

France 12

A LAST-GASP try from Richard Webster on his debut and the kicking of Jonathan Davies brought Wales an incredible victory over a French side that comprehensively outplayed them at Cardiff last night. Wales were on their way to defeat after their worst performance since the national side was reformed two-and-a-half-years ago when their substitute crashed over a minute into injury time.

Wales made a ponderous start during which France played all the good rugby and Wales' flat performance echoed the lack of atmosphere from a disappointingly sparse crowd of 6,278 at Ninian Park.

It was no more than the French deserved when they took the lead just before the midway point in the half. Patrick Entat scooped up Kevin Ellis' loose pass and although Phil Ford had the pace to catch him on his 45-yard run, to the line, he misjudged his tackle to let the former Hull scrum-half score a try which Patrick Torreilles converted.

With Jonathan Davies struggling from an early injury and their tactics stale and unimaginative, there was little sign of any relief for Wales and France continued to carve out the better chances with only a ball- and-all tackle from the previously fallible Ford halting Danny Divet and then Sirvent losing David Fraisse's pass with the line open.

Wales were no better after the interval, dropping passes even when under no pressure. Davies gave Wales a glimmer of hope. He broke down the right wing and put in a cross-kick that was picked up by

Ellis. Torrielles' foul made sure that two rather than a likely six points were conceded.

Davies sent Wales staggering a little further into contention with another penalty after interference at the play-the-ball. From the restart Fages hit his kick-off dead and Davies put Wales level from half-way.

Eight minutes from time, a 30- yard Davies drop-goal put them one point ahead - a lead they hardly deserved and which they lost no time in losing. Paul Moriarty knocked-on behind his own line from the kick-off and having conceded possession yet again Wales stood off to allow Garcia to score what appeared to be a decisive converted try. But a penalty conceded virtually on their try-line gave Webster his chance and Davies then made no mistake.

WALES: Ford (Salford); Cordle (Bradford), Bateman (Warrington), Davies (Warrington, capt), Sullivan (St Helens); Griffiths (St Helens), Ellis (Warrington); Young (Salford), B Williams (Carlisle), Jones (Hull), Moriarty (Widnes), Phillips (Warrington), Perrett (Halifax). Substitutes: Powell (Bradford) for Ford, 67; Marlow (Wakefield) for Jones, 76; Webster (Salford) for Young, 76.

FRANCE: Frison (Villefranche); Garcia (St Esteve), Despin (Villefranche), Fraisse (Sheffield), Sirvent (St Gaudens); Fages (Pia), Entat (Avignon, capt); Teixido (Limoux) Torreilles (Pia), Llong (Catelan), Divet (Hull), Cabestany (Catalan), Valero (Lezignan). Substitutes: Attia (Carpentras) for Teixido h/t; Jampy (Catalan) for Llong, 71.

Referee: D Campbell (Widnes).

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