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Wales must keep discipline in Six Nations clash with France

Michael Steele/Getty Images

Wales hooker Ken Owens feels maintaining discipline in the face of any French provocation will be key to keeping their RBS 6 Nations title hopes alive.

France will head to Cardiff on Friday week with a 100 per cent record having beaten both Italy and Ireland in tight Paris encounters.

Wales are also on the title trail after backing up their 16-16 Dublin draw with Ireland by beating Scotland 27-23 at the Principality Stadium last weekend.

So the scene is set for a titanic tussle in Cardiff, and Owen says Wales are fully prepared for French physicality after Ireland trio Johnny Sexton, Jared Payne and Dave Kearney were left dazed and bruisedat the Stade de France.

"Perhaps that is how the French play," Owens said. "They are very aggressive and they like to mix it physically, especially up front.

"When there are things like that off the ball you have just got to trust the officials. You have to go with your own game and keep your head focused on that.

"You have seen how close the majority of games have been in this championship so far. There has been a score in every game, apart from Italy and England, and discipline is huge.

"The team that tends to give away less penalties comes away with the victory. That has been a huge focus for us this campaign and going forward to the French game it will be exactly the same."

Owens accepts Wales will be giving away some bulk at scrum-time against a heavier France pack. But the new-look Wales front row has shown up well so far in this Six Nations campaign.

Scarlets props Rob Evans and Samson Lee have replaced Lions veterans Gethin Jenkins and Adam Jones in the last year or so, and the pair have adapted well to the demands of Test rugby.

"It is going to be the same old challenge that French teams through history have posed," Owens said. "They are very big men, but they are quite dynamic with it as well.

"They are effective carrying and defensively and have strength right across the pack. But Rob and Samson have been outstanding. Rob's developed over the last two to three years and worked on the things you must to get to this level.

"He's got a massive future ahead of him and we all know how good Samson is. It's taken him a bit of time after his Achilles operation to hit the ground running, but you can see now he's full of confidence and back to his best."

And Owens feels the Wales props can actually turn the fact they are smaller men than their French counterparts into an advantage. "You've got to work to your strengths and impact on the other team," Owens said.

"Samson is a lot shorter than other props but he is very strong and powerful and that's what we are trying to target. We've looked at the French pack and we've got a plan to get the best out of our scrum."