France v Wales, Six Nations
Preview: France v Wales
Nic Atkin
February 27, 2015

Wales dug deep to get their Six Nations campaign back on track with victory over Scotland in Edinburgh, while France will be smarting from their defeat to Ireland. With both looking to keep their lingering title hopes alive, neither side can afford defeat in Paris, which should make for a thrilling encounter.

Team news

Philippe Saint-Andre has wielded the axe with five changes overall, most notably giant centre Mathieu Bastareaud who drops to the bench.

Remy Lamerat has been brought in to partner Wesley Fofana in the centre, while Morgan Parra replaces the sidelined Rory Kockott at scrum-half and Brice Dulin comes in for Scott Spedding at full-back.

Pascal Pape - who picked up a 10-week ban for kneeing Jamie Heaslip in the back - is replaced by Romain Taofifenua, while Sofian Guitone is in for the injured Teddy Thomas.

For the visitors, wing George North and prop Samson Lee have both been recalled. North has not played since taking two blows to his head during the 21-16 home defeat against England earlier this month, with Wales deciding to rest him for the Scotland game nine days ago.

Northampton star North replaces his fellow 2013 British and Irish Lion Alex Cuthbert, while Lee - who was concussed in the England match - takes over from Aaron Jarvis. Two other changes following the victory over Scotland see starts for hooker Scott Baldwin and lock Luke Charteris.

Key head-to-head

Dan Lydiate and Thierry Dusautoir are both known for being masters of stealing the ball at the breakdown, as well as for putting in big hits - the pair have exceptionally high tackle counts.

Lydiate and Dusautoir should be responsible for a lot of penalties won or lost, and the contest could come down to such small margins. Wales and France both have very able kickers in Leigh Halfpenny and Camille Lopez, who kicked all of France's points in their opening win over Scotland.

Key Stats

*Wales are looking for their fourth consecutive win against France, something they have not achieved since the 1950s

*Sam Warburton is set to equal Ryan Jones' record of 33 Tests as Wales captain

*The two sides have met 93 times, with Wales winning 46 and France victorious on 44 occasions, while they have drawn only three matches

Odds

Wales lost their opening game two years ago before winning in Paris to spark their title-winning campaign, and, with Ireland at home next up before Italy away, another victory here could spark hopes of similar heroics among Welsh supporters.

Meanwhile, France have failed to impress so far, scoring their only try of the championship in a late rally in their defeat in Dublin, but some key changes should lead to a more free-flowing approach.

Defeat will likely condemn either side to a bottom-half finish, which should make for a tight encounter, but home advantage could prove vital.

With that in mind, you can get France to win at 5/9 with Unibet, while Wales are 7/5, while you can get the draw at 20/1.

Weather

Paris is set for a cloudy, cold evening with highs of six degrees centigrade.

Prediction

France to edge it by less than five points.

George North is back in for Wales © Getty Images
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