WALES may not have produced a performance to scream title contenders but they got the precious result after a topsy-turvy Six Nations opener in Paris.

Warren Gatland wanted to set the tone for his final tournament with a strong display at the Stade de France, instead his side had to show their tenacity and spirit to record a tenth Test win on the bounce.

It looked like they would be heading to Rome in round two with no points to their name when they trailed 16-0 after a shambolic first half.

Yet they were much smarter after the break and exploited a France side that completely lost their way to sneak a tense 24-19 victory.

The error count was heavily red in the first half, it was heavily blue in the second.

No side had ever come back from 11 points down at half-time in the Six Nations but Wales, with Justin Tipuric and Josh Navidi superb, managed it with the key score coming from wing George North, his second, after he pounced on an awful pass by debutant Romain Ntamack.

Wales dug deep while Les Bleus imploded and will lament 14 points gifted away and 10 points missed from the tee.

It was a remarkable start to the tournament and now Gatland, while acknowledging there is plenty of work to do, will now be eyeing up a round three clash with England in Cardiff.

South Wales Argus: TRY TIME: Yoann Huget scored in the first half, but the hero turned villainTRY TIME: Yoann Huget scored in the first half, but the hero turned villain

Centre Jonathan Davies had spoken in midweek about the importance of a fast start yet Wales were 5-0 down after six minutes.

France started slickly and made the most of a Hadleigh Parkes knock-on from quick lineout ball to charge in the 22 where the ball was worked right for number eight Louis Picamoles to step in and power over a little too easily.

Scrum-half Morgan Parra pushed the conversion and did the same with a long-range penalty, failing to punish Wales further for their sluggish start.

Wales fly-half Gareth Anscombe then missed with a speculative effort from the tee as both sides struggled to get their games going.

But the visitors should have been level, and possibly in front, in the 18th minute when a turnover by Josh Navidi led to Liam Williams being put into the 22.

The full-back opted to ignore the support and seemed to have got away with that decision when he slid over only for a replay to show a knock-on after Picamoles’ fine, if desperate, tackle.

Wales paid the price in the 24th minute when Les Bleus were over for their second try after a defensive howler by wing George North, who stepped in off his flank to allow flanker Arthur Iturria to put speedster Yoann Huget sliding over.

Once again Parra was wide and it looked likely to be a seven-point game when the hosts played the scrum-half to give Anscombe a second shot at goal only for the playmaker to push it wide from in front of the posts.

France had the better control and their kicking game earned another chance when Tomos Williams was forced to carry the ball over for a five-metre scrum.

Wales stood firm from the set piece but were offside in midfield to gift Camille Lopez, who had taken over with the tee, a simple three points for a 13-0 advantage.

The visitors had to withstand a five-metre lineout drive – with lock Adam Beard defending superbly – but then shot themselves in the foot in the 40th minute.

A free-kick from a scrum gave them a chance to go in just 13-0 down, not bad given the standard of their performance, but captain Alun Wyn Jones ordered Anscombe to bang it long.

The decision wasn’t bad but the chase and subsequent defence was awful, allowing Lopez to slot a superb drop goal for 16-0.

South Wales Argus: HERO: George North crossed for two triesHERO: George North crossed for two triesWales needed to strike first after the restart and they did.

After they went through the phases well wing Josh Adams skipped through a tackle at a ruck and stayed calm to put scrum-half Williams over for a try that Anscombe converted.

It got even better courtesy of a Huget howler.

Hadleigh Parkes kicked through with penalty advantage and it looked a shocker only for the Toulouse speedster to fail to gather the ball just yards from his line and gift a try to North.

Anscombe converted and it was 16-14 and suddenly all Wales with errors galore from Les Bleus.

It looked like they had turned it around when Dragons number eight Ross Moriarty went over the line only for referee Wayne Barnes to deem Alun Wyn Jones had taken out Picamoles at the ruck.

Lopez pulled a penalty that would have settled the French and instead it was Dan Biggar, on for Anscombe, that had the chance to put Wales into the lead for the first time after 62 minutes. The Northampton fly-half made no mistake.

It became a cagey affair with Wales surviving a second Lopez drop goal effort but then conceding a scrum penalty that allowed the fly-half to make it 19-17 in the 71st minute.

Yet Wales were 24-19 up with seven minutes to play when a ridiculous pass by novice centre Romain Ntamack was snared by North, who raced over from his own half for a try that Biggar converted.

France: M Medard; D Penaud (G Fickou 62), R Ntamack, W Fofana (G Doumayrou 66), Y Huget; C Lopez, M Parra (B Serin 57); J Poirot (D Priso 60), G Guirado (captain, J Marchand 57), U Atonio (S Bamba 47), S Vahaamahina, P Willemse, W Lauret (F Lambey 57), A Iturria, L Picamoles (G Alldritt 70).

Scorers: tries – L Picamoles, Y Huget; penalties – C Lopez (2); drop goal – C Lopez.

Wales: L Williams (G Anscombe 66); G North, J Davies, H Parkes, J Adams; G Anscombe (D Biggar 52), T Williams (G Davies 52); R Evans (W Jones 72), K Owens (E Dee 72), T Francis (S Lee 56), A Beard (C Hill 47), A W Jones (captain), J Navidi (A Wainwright 77), J Tipuric, R Moriarty.

Scorers: tries – T Williams, G North (2); conversions – G Anscombe (2), D Biggar; penalty – D Biggar

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Star man: Justin Tipuric