Wales 'A' in gritty win over French
February 5, 2000
Wales A made Wrexham's Racecourse Ground a happy hunting ground with a gritty win over a powerful French second string.
It was the young dragons' second visit to this northern outpost and their second win and once again the star of the show was dapper little outside-half Arwel Thomas.
He collected 20 points from four penalty goals, two drop-goals and a conversion. Thomas gave Wales the ideal start with a first minute penalty for offside but France hit back almost immediately.
Oliver Saramea made a powerful burst from the blindside wing and Pascal Bomatti slid over in the right corner for Gerald Merceron to convert with a towering kick.
Again the reply was swift as Thomas' long pass gave Neil Boobyer the space to put Gareth Wyatt over in the corner.
Thomas could not convert and Merceron put France back in front with a 43 metre penalty and they went further ahead when Stephane Glas cut through for Bomatti to get his second try although this time Merceron could not convert.
Thomas reduced the gap with a penalty and then popped over a couple of drop-goals but Merceron kept the French in front with a drop-goal of his own and a penalty to make it 21-17 at half-time.
The French fly-half stretched the lead early in the second half with a penalty but Wales, with Andy Moore and Nathan Budgett prominent, were getting up a head of steam.
Thomas trimmed the lead with a penalty and then after 55 minutes Wales struck when Saramea failed to gather a kick by Neil Boobyer and his brother Ian crashed through for the try which Thomas converted.
France withstood fierce Welsh pressure before levelling with a Merceron penalty but Wales were not to be denied.
From the restart Budgett drove to the line and France were caught offside and Thomas landed the match-winning penalty.
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham