Wales France women

Wales France women. Pic: Getty Images

Ioan Cunningham Insists He Can Stop The Rot After Defeat No.7 For Wales

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By David Williams

Ioan Cunningham has claimed Wales can avoid a Six Nations wooden spoon by beating Italy – even though his team have done little this season to spread that faith.

The Wales coach insists his team can turn things around in their final match of the Women’s Guinness Six Nations, despite another huge defeat in the fourth round of matches, Wales’ seventh in succession.

Winless Wales remain at the foot of the table after France set up a Grand Slam decider with England with a 40-0 victory at Cardiff Arms Park.

The French ran in six tries to ensure a tense conclusion to the championship in Bordeaux next weekend.

“We fought for every inch, we went through some good attacking sets, it is just that clinical edge that we are still searching for,” said Cunningham.

“But I am confident if we can produce some plays like that against Italy next week, we can finish this championship on a high.

“If the effort is there and the next action is there we’ve got something to build on. I thought that was there today in abundance.”

That may sound like a denial of reality to many as Wales failed to score a single point.

It was certainly a display that followed the familiar pattern of Wales’ three previous defeats in the tournament – one full or mistakes, poor decision-making, and an absence of any discernible tactical strategy.

Former Wales prop and Wales U20s coach Chris Horsman told the BBC, “Have we invested this money, time and effort over two years to say we stuck at it?

“It should be beyond that.

“This year, Wales should have been saying we want to get France.

“If you want the exposure and you want people watching the game, you are going to have more opinions, that is the price on the ticket.

“If you want to be professional rugby players at the highest level you have got to be setting those standards and you’ve got to be demanding more of yourselves.”

France, who had debutant Anne-Cecile Ciofani sent to the sin bin for a first-minute tackle on Hannah Jones, made light of their numerical disadvantage as they raced into a 14-0 lead inside 18 minutes with prop Annaelle Deshayes and winger Joanna Grisez crossing and fly-half Lina Queyroi adding the conversions.

Flanker Romane Menager’s try made it 19-0 at the break with Wales enjoying more possession and territory, but being made to pay for mistakes.

Tries from centre Gabrielle Vernier and skipper Manae Feleu and two more Queyroi conversions stretched the lead to 33-0 before prop Assia Khalfaoui was shown a yellow card for a head-on-head challenge on fly-half Lleucu George.

But Grisez claimed her second of the game after she pounced on Cath Richards’ loose pass inside her own 22 with Morgane Bourgeois converting to complete a good afternoon’s work for the visitors.

Wales will aim to finish their campaign on a high next Saturday when they face Italy at the Principality Stadium.

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