For­mer Knight Fran­cis ex­em­pli­fies Welsh spirit

Yorkshire Post - Sports Monday - - RUGBY UNION -

TO­MAS FRAN­CIS has hailed the “un­real” at­mos­phere in Wales’ squad fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of a first four-from-four au­tumn Tests clean sweep.

Fran­cis’ early try – no Wales prop had pre­vi­ously touched down in Tests against South Africa, New Zealand or Aus­tralia – sent his team on their way to a 20-11 vic­tory over the Spring­boks.

Wales ex­tended an un­beaten run to nine games – their longest win­ning se­quence since 1999 – and they have not lost at home for a year.

It augers well for a Six Na­tions cam­paign that be­gins against France in Paris on Fe­bru­ary 1, with for­mer Don­caster Knights prop Fran­cis, who had never scored a try for Wales or his club Ex­eter, en­thused by what lies ahead.

“Win­ning is a habit and, as a squad, we be­lieve,” he said. “Ev­ery­one works for each other, and we are on a good run at the minute. It is a squad you want to be in­volved in. The at­mos­phere is un­real.

“It was a great feel­ing to score a try – it is not some­thing I do very of­ten. I think the last one was when I played for Lon­don Scot­tish or Don­caster.”

Sean Mait­land’s try en­sured Scot­land ended their au­tumn cam­paign on a high as they edged out a mis­fir­ing Ar­gentina side 14-9 at Mur­ray­field.

De­feats to Wales and South Africa left Gre­gor Townsend’s side in dan­ger of los­ing mo­men­tum ahead of the Six Na­tions.

But they got back on track as Mait­land’s sec­ond-half touch­down and nine points from cap- tain Greig Laid­law en­sured they held off the Pu­mas.

An­drew Con­way’s hat-trick sealed Ire­land’s sec­ond-straight au­tumn se­ries clean sweep with a 57-14 win over the USA in Dublin.

The big­gest sur­prise of the fi­nal week­end of the Au­tumn In­ter­na­tion­als came in Paris where Fiji claimed their first ever win over France with a sur­prise 21-14 vic­tory at the Stade de France.

TO­MAS FRAN­CIS: His first try for Wales helped set up a win over South Africa.

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