Wales women head coach Ioan Cunningham. Pic: Getty Images

Wales Bid To Topple French And Get Their Show Back On The Road

By David Parsons

The French are coming and it is going to take an almighty effort from Ioan Cunningham’s Welsh side to stop them from making it four wins out of four in the Guinness Women’s Six Nations on Sunday.

Les Bleues are hoping to stay on course for a Grand Slam showdown with England next week and came into Round 4 one point behind the reigning champions, who beat Ireland 88-10 in front of a crowd of 48,778 at Twickenham on Saturday.

Wales have struggled to date in this year’s championship after finishing third last season. Now the goal is to end on a high with back-to-back home games against France and Italy, both in the Welsh capital.

Cunningham has rung the changes after the disappointing 36-5 defeat to Ireland in Cork last time out. Cath Matthews makes her debut on the wing, while Kayleigh Powell will make her first start since the 2022 World Cup at full back.

Courtney Keight starts on the wing and Carys Cox moves to inside centre to replace the injured Kerin Lake. Sian Jones comes in for Keira Bevan at scrum-haf and Natalia John starts in the second row.

The French have partnered the Feleu sisters, Teani and Manae, in their big pack for the first time, and have brought in Chloe Jacquet at outside centre to serve wings Anne-Cécile Ciofani and Joanna Grisez.

“We know France are one of the best teams in the world, a real force in the world game, and are a major challenge for us. They are favourites for this Test match,” admitted Cunningham.

“We’ve all taken a long hard look at ourselves and have stripped back our game back and focused on what we have to do. We have drawn a line in the sand, and we need a performance at Cardiff Arms Park.”

Having failed to win a game in the inaugural WXV tournament in New Zealand, Wales are currently on a run of six successive defeats. They lost seven in a row in 2020-21 and lost their first 10 Tests when the team was first formed in 1990.

Carys Cox Ready To Help Underdogs Wales Bite The French

For returning full-back Powell it is a case of the side “remembering how good a team we are”. She wants Wales to front up against the French.

“We were really gutted after the Ireland game, but that has spurred us on even more to give it everything against France. Going in as underdogs relieves a little bit of pressure on us,” said Powell.

“We’ve got a lot of pressure on ourselves to perform better than we did against Ireland. We’re not expected to win, so all the pressure is on France.

“We’ve got to turn up which is obviously what we didn’t do against Ireland. We need to go back to getting our confidence and back ourselves.

“We need to remember how good a team we are when we’re all on the same page and giving each other 100%.”

 

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