ROWLAND Phillips was left with plenty to ponder after a 39-19 defeat to France in Brive that made it four successive defeats in the 2017 Women's Six Nations campaign.
But far from being down-hearted at a five try defeat in front of a huge crowd at Stade Amedee Domenech, the Welsh coach must have been encouraged by the dogged attitude displayed by his players as they notched their highest points tally against France and scored three tries against them for the first time.
Wales will now prepare for the World Cup in Ireland this summer, buoyed by some battling displays in a challenging campaign.
Number eight Shona Powell-Hughes followed up her try against Ireland with another great effort that gave Wales an early 5-3 lead and then there were two from prop Amy Evans. But it wasn't enough to stop Wales finishing fifth.
France took the lead with a penalty from full back Jessy Trémoulière, who ended the game with a 19-point haul, but Powell-Hughes then powered over to give Wales the lead. Trémoulière kicked a second penalty and then converted a try from second row Audrey Forlani to make it 13-5 at the break.
The French, beaten 10-8 at Neath last year, started the second half strongly with centre Caroline Ladagnous adding a second try. Trèmoulière added the conversion from a wide angle to stretch the gap to 15 points.
But Wales showed they were very much up for the fight as they hit back almost immediately with Evans crashing over from a clever line-out move. Robyn Wilkins converted to cut the deficit to eight points.
The next score was going to be crucial and, as the game began to open up, it went to the home side.
Strong running left wing Caroline Boujard crossed and once again Trémoulière hit the mark with her unerring boot to add the extras.
Many teams on French soil have thrown in the towel at this stage, but Carys Phillips' battlers refused to give in and Evans barged her way over from close-range for her second try. Wilkins once against converted to make it 27-19 with 20 minutes left to play.
Now both sides were chasing the try bonus point but it was the French driving maul that came up trumps as prop Lise Arricastre emerged from a pile of bodies to claim the score. Trémoulière converted and then added a fifth try to round off a great personal performance.