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Warren Gatland: We're ready for a step towards title

Warren Gatland has targeted "another step up" from his players on Friday night when they chase a victory over France that would send them top of the RBS 6 Nations.

Wales have not lost to France since suffering an agonising 2011 World Cup semi-final defeat in Auckland, reeling off four successive Six Nations wins.

And after an opening weekend draw away to Ireland, which was followed by victory over Scotland in Cardiff, Wales can effectively set up a title showdown with Eddie Jones' England at Twickenham on March 12 by toppling France, given that their final fixture is a home appointment with struggling Italy seven days later.

"France come to Cardiff unbeaten and impressing under Guy (Noves). We are looking to continue our unbeaten run and will be looking for another step up after the victory over Scotland," said Gatland.

Lock Luke Charteris, though, will miss France's Cardiff visit because of a knee injury and is replaced in the starting XV by Wasps forward Bradley Davies.

Two other changes from the side that defeated Scotland 10 days ago see call-ups for Cardiff Blues wing Alex Cuthbert and Ospreys flanker Dan Lydiate.

Centre Jonathan Davies will feature alongside regular midfield partner Jamie Roberts after he missed his club Clermont's game against Castres because of a groin problem.

WALES: Liam Williams (Scarlets); A Cuthbert (Cardiff), J Davies (Clermont), J Roberts (Harlequins), G North (Northampton); D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), S Baldwin (Ospreys), S Lee (Scarlets), B Davies (Wasps), A-W Jones (Ospreys), D Lydiate (Ospreys), S Warburton (Cardiff, capt), T Faletau (Dragons). Replacements: K Owens (Scarlets), G Jenkins (Cardiff), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), J Tipuric (Ospreys), Lloyd Williams (Cardiff), R Priestland (Bath), Gareth Anscombe (Cardiff Blues).

Belfast Telegraph


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