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Rupert Wyman 26th Feb 2009 - 23:09

Baby re-born into a fly-half

Benoit Baby has been selected at fly-half by coach Marc Lievremont for their key match against Wales in the Six Nations on Friday night.

The Clermont player is normally a centre but with the withdrawal of Lionel Beauxis through injury Lievremont has gambled rather than recalling Toulouse's David Skrela.

Baby's selection means that Les Bleus go into the match without a specialist kicker. Bourgoin scrum-half Morgan Parra will take on the kicking responsibilities in the Stade de France.

The home side desperately need to beat Wales to maintain any hope of winning this year's Six Nations. Lievremont's side began their campaign with a defeat in Dublin and followed that up with a win against Scotland.

Wales on the other hand are still on course to defend their Grand Slam title after beating Scotland and England in their first two matches.

The defending champions are the favourites to win on Friday night with them priced at 8/11. A home win is a 13/10 shot with the draw available at 20/1.

The handicap gives France a two-point start with both sides at 10/11 and the draw 14/1.

With no kicker playing for France you have to fancy the Welsh to make it three wins out of three.

Warren Gatland's side are boosted by the return of star winger Shane Williams and despite not being at their fluent best against England two weeks ago were still worth the win.

The preference would be to back Wales on the main handicap line at 10/11. The Welsh showed their ability by coming away from Murrayfield with a 26-13 win on the opening weekend.

While France last time out at home to Scotland produced a lacklustre first-half display and were only winning 6-3 at half-time, before improving after the break. If they show form like that against Gatland's men then they will be in big trouble.

France were helped by indiscipline by the Scots which resulted in numerous penalties but with no Lionel Beauxis to take advantage of such situations again it is hard to see where France will score the points, unless of course they find their fluent rugby.

The returning Shane Williams, as is customary, is the favourite at 10/1 to score the first try of the match. The Ospreys man is 15/8 to score one at anytime.

Better value can be found in open-side flanker Martyn Williams, as the number seven is 9/2 to score a try. It would be fitting if the Cardiff Blues flanker were to get on the scoresheet as he will become Wales' most-capped player in the Five and Six Nations with his appearance in the Stade de France.

For France Maxime Medard is an obvious threat and despite him moving to full-back, from the wing, looks better value at 16/1 to get the first try than either of the wingers Cedric Heymans and Julien Malzieu at 12/1.

The match promise to be a passionate afffair under the lights in Paris and a win for France could see them go on to win the Six Nations but on current form that looks unlikely. The match is live on BBC Two with a 20:05 kick-off and of course from then we will have a wide array of in-running betting markets available via our betlive service.

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