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Wales Grand Slam hopes are ended by France

  • Story Highlights
  • Six Nations champions Wales are beaten 21-16 by France in Paris on Friday
  • The results ends Welsh hopes of first back-to-back Grand Slams in 100 years
  • Ireland are only unbeaten side remaining ahead of their match against England
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(CNN) -- Champions Wales have been beaten 21-16 by France in Paris, their first Six Nations rugby defeat in two years, to end any hopes of emulating their last back-to-back Grand Slam achieved 100 years ago.

France players celebrate after their thrilling victory over Six Nations champions France in Paris.

France players celebrate after their thrilling victory over Six Nations champions France in Paris.

A run of eight successive Six Nations victories ground to a halt in the tournament's first Friday night fixture after the visitors blew a 13-3 lead.

Wales looked in control after full-back Lee Byrne's try and eight points from the boot of fly-half Stephen Jones generated a comfortable lead.

France though, fought back to justify coach Marc Lievremont's team selection that featured a debut for 20-year-old Matthieu Bastareaud in midfield, with center Benoit Baby at fly-half and novice Morgan Parra on goalkicking duties.

Parra slotted three penalties and a conversion as France edged the try-count through touchdowns by flanker Thierry Dusautoir and wing Cedric Heymans. Substitute James Hook kicked a late Wales penalty, but France were good value for the win that Lievremont so badly needed.

Both sides can still win the championship, yet unbeaten Ireland now appear to be in control ahead of their home game against England on Saturday.

Wales, though, will be smarting from missing a chance to equal the Six Nations record of nine wins in a row jointly held by France and England.

The opening flurries went Wales' way as they made a confident start through two Jones penalties inside nine minutes.

Parra hit the target for France but Wales hit back and scored the first try when Jones' defense-splitting pass found Byrne, whose exquisite timing of his run allowed him an unopposed 30-meter dash for glory.

Jones' conversion made it 13-3 early in the second quarter although Parra cut the deficit six minutes before the break, finding his range with an angled 30-meter strike.

Wales appeared in command yet conceded a try on the stroke of half-time. The visitors seemed to be caught napping as the French forwards rushed into Wales' 22, and Dusautoir claimed a try that Parra converted to make it 13-13 at the break.

Wales enjoyed a reprieve when Parra rifled a straightforward penalty chance wide after the break, but France were starting to take over backed by a passionate home support.

The visitors were breached again after 52 minutes when slick passing and incisive running resulted in a try for Heymans although Parra's conversion attempt rebounded off the post.

Despite coach Warren Gatland making three substitutions, there was no way back for Wales and Parra completed his penalty hat-trick 10 minutes from time to complete the scoring.

Gatland felt his side had paid the price for too many individual errors. "There were too many mistakes," he told BBC TV. "At the end of it we have to give the French full credit because they deserved the victory.

"We had a chance to sneak it, but I think at 13-3 up we should have been a bit more clinical. We weren't good enough tonight," he added.

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