Jonathan Davies: England result key to Wales' Six Nations challenge
Jonathan Davies believes that Wales are building solidly towards what looks like being the pivotal game of this season's RBS 6 Nations Championship.
Victory over England at Twickenham on March 12 would leave Wales needing a home win against regular Six Nations strugglers Italy seven days later to secure a fourth Six Nations title triumph of head coach Warren Gatland's eight-year reign.
Wales are on a seven-match unbeaten run in the tournament since England beat them last term, and Friday night's 19-10 success against France means they have still not lost to Les Bleus since suffering an agonising 2011 World Cup semi-final loss.
"They (England) have got the wins on the board," Wales centre Davies said.
"W e have got to back ourselves. We have got confidence in our own abilities, and traditionally we get better as the tournament goes on. We have to make sure we keep doing that and keep working hard.
"We are never as clinical as we want to be, so we need to keep working on that, but our defence was excellent. We came through a six-minute period (of sustained French pressure) without conceding a point, which is encouraging.
"They did get a try late on, but by then the result was in the bag. I think our level in that (defence) area is getting back to where it has been before.
"It is about using the ball effectively and being clinical when we have it offensively.
"There is a lot more to come in that area. We created some chances, but we were loose with some silly off-loads, but that will come."
Wing George North's second-half try - his 25th touchdown in 58 Tests for Wales - plus 14 points from fly-half Dan Biggar floored France, although there was a touch of good fortune about North's breakaway score after he initially miskicked with his right foot when he attempted to tap the ball over the line, but still had time to gather and touch down.
"I don't think there is any danger of George playing for Manchester United," Davies added. "That was a bit more like Carmarthen Town.
"He was fortunate with the bounce. Sometimes those things go against you, and sometimes they go for you, and thankfully it went for us. It is never a bad thing to have those little bits of luck go your way, and hopefully we can make the most of it.
"France came with an intent to play and put pressure on us. We withstood it, but you can see they are growing as a team and will get better and better.
"They did not contest that heavily at the breakdown - they were standing back and fanning out in the line - and it meant there was not much space.
"There were times where our pick-and-go got us some go-forward, but it was a bit of an arm wrestle really. Thankfully, we took our chances and got the win."
Davies now heads back to France for a week with his club Clermont Auvergne - they face Top 14 opponents Grenoble next Friday - and he plans a not-so-subtle reminder of events in Cardiff for his Clermont colleagues.
"I have got a suit in the wardrobe out in Clermont which is covered in the Welsh dragon, so I might be wearing that a bit next week," he said.
"I will have a nice smirk on my face!"