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Player Ratings: France

OPINION: France didn’t quite reign supreme in the St-Etienne hot-box, a stadium which will host four World Cup games later this year, but there were many flashes of brilliance to admire nonetheless.

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At times this was France at their very best, even if their concentration levels waned in the second half as Gregor Townsend’s men fought back.

Here we rate Fabien Galthie’s charges following their late-night encounter with Scotland.

1. Cyril Baille – 7.5
Baille’s scrummaging prowess laid a solid foundation for France’s dominance in the set-pieces. His work rate around the park was superb as usual, making those hard yards for France when it counted most. Worryingly went off with a calf injury.

2. Julien Marchand – 7
Marchand’s pinpoint line-out throwing and his physicality in the loose added a much-needed dimension to France’s attack.

3. Dorian Aldegheri – 6
A slow start but Aldegheri’s contribution at the scrum was notable, even if he struggled to make the desired impact in open play. A solid display from Toulousain but left room for more. Replaced by Atonio in the 49th minute.

4. Cameron Woki – 7.5
Woki’s athleticism and ability to disrupt the Scottish ball made him a standout, but he made his fair share of errors too. His mobility across the field was impressive though, and he gets an extra half-point for his work at the breakdown.

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5. Thibaud Flament – 6
Flament’s line-out work was commendable, but he didn’t quite hit the heights we saw during the Six Nations. A below-par performance by his own high standards, but by no means a poor one.

6. Paul Boudehent – 7
France rookie Boudehent’s work rate in the breakdown and his willingness to get stuck in were pivotal for France. His energy seemed boundless, even if he slightly dipped in the latter stages.

7. Charles Ollivon – 8
Leading by example, Ollivon’s leadership shone through as he constantly rallied his troops. A menace at the breakdown, his all-round performance was an inspiration and he deserved his 44th-minute try.

8. Gregory Alldritt – 8
This writer had been critical of Alldritt’s form in the Six Nations but he was back to his best here. Barnstorming runs and unwavering commitment, the La Rochelle man was a bulwark in defence and a force in attack. A few spills but who’s counting?

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9. Antoine Dupont – 8.5
Supreme darting runs and pin-point passes had Scotland chasing their tail at times. His tactical awareness was a game-changer, and his assist for Romain Ntamack’s opening French try was just sheer craftsmanship. As Dewi Morris said in a commentary: ‘Everything goes through this nine’.

10. Romain Ntamack – 8
Took his 31st-minute try brilliantly off an attacking dart from Dupont off an attacking scrum. His orchestration of the backline showcased his playmaking abilities. His tactical kicking kept the territorial battle in France’s favour, although a few missed tackles held him back. Limped off after 54 minutes to add to Fabien Galthie’s anxiety levels.

11. Gabin Villiere – 7
A brilliant turnover in the 27th minute that very nearly set up Dupont. Villiere’s elusive running and power in contact troubled Scotland’s defence. Nearly scored a remarkable try in the 70th minute but for a blindside hit from Ollie Smith.

12. Jonathan Danty – 7.5
Danty’s crash-ball running added a directness to France’s attack, which they badly miss when he’s not playing. His physicality in the midfield stood out, but a couple of handling errors took the shine off.

13. Gael Fickou – 6
Not exactly vintage Fickou but his usual defensive solidity and clever distribution kept France’s backline ticking. Lucky to get away with a cheap shot on Rory Sutherland.

14. Damian Penaud – 8
The Bordeaux-bound wing’s power and pace troubled the visitors’ defence on numerous occasions and took just two minutes of the second half to ghost through the Scottish cover for a 5-pointer. Unlucky not to claim a second 5 minutes later.

15. Thomas Ramos – 7.5
Ramos’ composed performance at the back provided stability to France’s defensive line, while his boot was as deadly as ever. His counter-attacking flair added an extra dimension, injecting pace in the 44th minute to put Ollivon away on his inside for a breathtakingly French effort.

REPLACEMENTS:

16. Pierre Bourgarit – 7
A position of real strength for France. Bourgarit’s introduction injected renewed energy into France’s front row. His carrying and work rate around the field was there for all to see.

17. Jean-Baptiste Gros – 6
Gros’ scrummaging prowess added solidity to the set-pieces. While his contributions in open play were notable, a couple of errors marred what could have been a higher rating.

18. Uini Atonio – 8
Atonio’s heavyweight impact in the scrums was unmistakable, causing headaches for the opposition pack. His ball-carrying ability and physicality made a significant difference as France pushed for dominance in the final quarter. Winning the late scrum penalty was worth a weight in gold.

19. Florian Verhaeghe – 5
Got precious little time to make an impact but did his best in the limited timeframe afforded to him.

20. Bastien Chalureau – 6
Chalureau’s arrival added a fresh dimension to France’s back row, his aggression at the breakdown particularly.

21. Sekou Macalou – 5
Scotland forwards had the best of the late exchanges and Macalou was maybe a little lightweight for the job at hand.

22. Maxime Lucu – NA
Not really on long enough to rate, coming on for Dupont in the 69th minute.

23. Louis Bielle-Biarrey – 5
They call him ‘The Scooter’ in France and the speedster’s late entry into the fray didn’t deter him from trying to make an impact but his defence needs work.

By Ian Cameron, @RugbyPass

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