Body language of French told us a lot, says Phillips
WITH the scores level and time running out, one glance at the hard-puffing French convinced Mike Phillips that Wales were going to secure a famous victory.
It might not have been a perfect performance from Rob Howley’s side but they were worthy winners in Paris.
They left it late to take the spoils from a dour encounter with George North’s match-winning try coming with just nine minutes left.
However, scrum-half Phillips was always confident that they had the edge on Les Bleus after getting a good read of the opposition during a break in play.
“The body language of the French told us we were doing well,” he said. “They were blowing and had their hands on their knees.
“We knew if we could keep the tempo up, we would take the sting out of their attack, even though we were blowing ourselves at times.
“But that’s international rugby for you, it’s hard. The boys kept tight and, tactically, I felt we played it perfectly by putting the ball behind them.
“We kept the forwards on the front foot and we took all our opportunities, which we didn’t do against the Irish. It was a good day.”
Unlike some of his teammates, Phillips accepts that Wales deserved to be in the firing line after heading over the Channel on the back of eight Test defeats on the spin.
But the Bayonne scrum-half never doubted that they would turn things around.
He said: “When you are in a losing team you have got to expect criticism but we knew we weren't far off turning it around – we’re a good team.
“It’s a tough world and in rugby one minute you are the hero and the next you’re rubbish. You have got to be strong.
“The boys showed they were and did what we needed to do against France.”
Matchwinner North prais-ed the mental strength of the squad for ending their losing streak.
“We have had a lot of pent-up energy,” said the winger. “There has been a lot of negativity for the boys to deal with, but as a squad we have stuck together, worked hard together as a unit and stayed strong.
“I thought our week’s prep was great, the boys really stuck together through the hard times and that performance showed where we were.
“The coaches have taken flak but in fairness they have got some strong chins on them.
“We have always believed from day one that we stick together, whatever comes we will take it as a unit and go forward as a unit.”