The startling French statistic that has Grand Slam-chasing Wales working extra hard on the training pitch
Wales take on France this Saturday in Paris hoping that the training ground work they have put in to curb one particular aspect of French power play will pay rich dividends and help take them to Six Nations Grand Slam success under Wayne Pivac.
Fabien Galthie’s side have only played three games so far in this year’s tournament as their round three match with Scotland at the end of February was postponed.
However, the startling pattern that emerged from their games versus Italy, Ireland and England was how 40 per cent of the points they have scored in this campaign took place in the second quarter period, from 20 minutes in the first-half through to half-time.
France have scored 85 points in total this year and 34 have come in that 20-minute period leading up to the interval. There were 14 points scored against Italy, ten against Ireland and another ten versus England last weekend.
In contrast, this 20-minute period before the break has been a time when Grand Slam hopefuls Wales have been at their most vulnerable. While they kept Italy scoreless last weekend until the second-half, 28 of the 71 points the Welsh have conceded in this year’s championship (39.4 per cent) have been in that period before the half-time break.
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It’s a pattern of French power and Welsh leakage that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Pivac, who revealed he took steps on the training ground on Tuesday to ensure this scoring trend doesn’t materialise in the 20 minutes before half-time in the Wales Grand Slam match at the Stade de France.
“We have talked about it Tuesday and we replicated some of that at training,” he admitted after announcing an XV showing one change from last weekend, Adam Beard retaking his spot from Cory Hill. “Very well aware that their points differential in that last 15, 20 minutes of the half is high and for us it’s the other way around.
“We are very well aware of when we score a lot of points is towards the end of the game so what we need to do is we make sure we go to the dressing room (at half-time) well and truly in the game. That is going to be a big emphasis for us, and discipline in that second quarter is going to be huge as it is right across the game because these finals come down to fine margins.”
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