And so the fort fell.
After being out-shot for 10 years in Cardiff, the French Revolution is well and truly alive while Les Blues stormed a rather insurmountable castle with an epic victory to end their dodgy decade.
It all came in glorious tricolor. A first win in Wales since 2010 has the French dream of a first Grand Slam since then.
France won a huge win against Wales in Cardiff to keep their Six Nations dream alive
Romain Ntamack impressed with 17 points while the Grand Slam ambitions of France continue
Forget about fraternité, the French canalized Shaun Edwards-inspired brutalité here in defense.
And thanks to 17 points from Romain Ntamack and other attempts by Anthony Bouthier and Paul Willemse, they inflicted the first home defeat of Wales in the Six Nations for three years.
Wales only scored through Dillon Lewis and Dan Biggar’s late-on, who kicked the rest of their runs, but they ruined cruelty.
Full-back Anthony Bouthier crossed the line after a happy jump for France’s first attempt
Striker Paul Willemse flew over the line for the visitors’ second attempt while Wales struggled
The fly-half of Wales retained the Welsh in the game with penalties during the first half
The champions are now out of the fight, the Wayne Pivac era sober with a double hump.
Since 2017 they are no longer lost in this championship.
The atmosphere broke, crackled and popped under the roof – you felt as if you had been transported to the Stade de France with a lid on it.
The thousands of beret-carrying, baguette-wielding Frenchman had a riot. ‘Allez Les Blues’ rumbled across the floor and the Welsh were silenced by a deafening roar.
The soundtrack of the stands supported the action. Fiesty, fiery and fiery; this was a late introduction to the Six Nations.
Welcome back to the ‘biggest’ championship, which until now was anything but memorable.
Center Nick Tompkins was an impressive artist for the hosts with his line breaks
The game was played with a very high intensity and it almost boiled over at the Prinicpality
Prop Dillon Lewis scored his first international attempt for Wales early in the second half
And it was all thanks to the French that this occasion tore with color and excitement. It is quite remarkable how much a man can have on a team.
Shaun Edwards – so celebrated in this parish – was in the other box and his French defense was gluttonous just like the Welsh before.
They tied up ruffles that might have seemed lost, whizzed up to slap the Welsh and made a thumping pace.
Biggar hit an early penalty when the French were too eager and offside, but then Les Bleus came.
Ntamack launched a high bomb, Leigh Halfpenny failed to spread it and the thing exploded in Welsh faces when Bouthier fired away to score after he collected the loose ball. Ntamack converted.
Romain Ntamack then intercepted the ball, ran the field and scored for France
Wales tried a similar trick – cross-kicking from Biggar to George North on the right wing – but trying to catch him, he slapped Gael Fickou’s shoulder with his head and quickly looked groggy.
Wales: Halfpenny, North, Adams, Tompkins, Parkes, Biggar, G.Davies; W. Jones, Owens, Lewis, A.W Jones, Ball, Moriarty, Tipuric, Faletau.
Subs: Elias, Evans, Brown, Rowlands, Wainwright, T.Williams, Evans, McNicholl.
Tries: Lewis, Biggar.
Pens: Biggar (3).
France: Bouthier, Thomas, Fickou, Vakatawa, Vincent, Ntamack, Dupont; Baille, Marchand, Haouas, Le Roux, Willemse, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt.
Subs: Chat, Gros, Bamba, Taofifenua, Cretin, Serin, Jailbert, Ramos.
Tries: Bouthier, Willemse, Ntamack.
Cons: Ntamack (3).
Pens: Ntamack (2).
North would not be seen again, replaced by Johnny McNicholl after he failed his HIA. Ntamack and Biggar exchanged the penalties before the French flooded again.
Fickou thought he might have scored first. Bouthier sneaked past Nick Tompkins – his defense was again exposed in the centers – and soon Virimi Vakatawa had sent Teddy Thomas away. Back the ball came to Ntamack with a lump and he threw a kick wide at Fickou who intervened to score.
But the Vakatawa pass in the build-up was ahead, so it was out of the question. Does not matter; next, France put Hadleigh Parkes in the left corner, won the line-out and sent Paul Willemse – all African beef – right through McNicholl for an attempt that did count.
That got them going. At one point in the Gallic roar Hymns and Arias had to be sucked through, so that the Welsh reminded them to sing at home. They and their team were far behind in all respects.
But Wales must have the longest fingernails in the sport – that’s their tendency to stick to games.
Biggar struck a penalty to bring Wales in, and then they were looking for a score. In the siege before the break, Gregory Alldritt was in sin for coming in on the side, and France gave away at least three more penalties.
Wales chose the scrum on every occasion, but their performance was sloppy; the French defense fantastic. Four full minutes after the 40 was over, Tompkins knocked on the door, and the enthusiastic men from Edwards kept up. It felt like a crucial period.
Wales fought hard in the last quarter of the game when France took a second yellow card
In the other recent games between the two, Wales had to crawl back from the dead – 16-0 down in Paris last year and 12-0 behind in the quarter final of the Oita World Cup.
A characteristic of Warren Gatland’s Wales were winning games they were not entitled to; so this was a true test of Pivac’s embryonic age.
After choosing the most experienced team ever in the Six Nations, with 859 caps, the New Zealander had hoped that those wise heads would come through Wales.
It was a young man who brought them in. Tight Dillon Lewis, 24, piled up by the posts and Biggar converted nine minutes after halftime.
Now you could hear them, My father’s Land was ringing. This is usually when the French lose their heads – but not today. Ntamack intercepted Tompkins and ran inside – his conversion saw France back to eight ahead.
Then Biggar scores an attempt in the last minutes to make the final minutes in Cardiff a bit more spicy
And with 20 minutes to go, Wales looked robbed, stacking mistakes and looking at referee Matthew Carley.
Ntamack kicked a new penalty from 48 meters and this now seemed to be the highest order for Wales.
They tried their damn. Mohamed Haouas was shown a yellow card when the French scrum crumbled under immense pressure. But with Demba Bamba for the next, he melted Rob Evans like a Welsh rarebit and won the penalty.
When Biggar scored and converted to France late, he might have felt deja-vu, but after a period of panic – and full-time fighting – they soon danced and danced, and why not?
Days like this were a long time ago. Vive La Revolution!