Player Ratings: French flair
OPINION: In order to maintain pressure on the undefeated tournament leaders and Grand Slam hopefuls Ireland, France required a bonus-point triumph over Wales. They were able to welcome back prop Uini Atonio following a suspension, while Romain Taofifenua replaced the injured lock, Paul Willemse.
They certainly didn’t get it their own way, a sleepy start in Paris giving way to a more considered performance in the French capital.
We rate the French players:
15. Thomas Ramos – 8.5
His kicking from boot has been a real weapon for France this tournament and it was on show again here. Some of the huge Garryowens proved a real issue for Wales’ backfield. What might have been heartening to see for Fabien Galthie was that his defensive commitment matched his mastery with the boot.
14. Damian Penaud – 5
Took his two tries well but his attempt to milk a yellow when accidentally clipped off the ball by a Wales’ player sticks in the craw.
13. Gael Fickou – 7
Maybe lucky to get away with a penalty for a lifting tackle on Alun Wyn Jones, even if the Welsh icon was clearly making the most of it. A couple of uncharacteristic errors pockmarked his first half but he made up for that with a sublime line and finish in the 49th minute.
12. Jonathan Danty – 7.5
Rio Dyer might as well have clapped Danty to the try line, such was the Welshman’s chance of stopping the La Rochelle tank for his 34th-minute 5-pointer.
11. Ethan Dumortier – 7
Did well under pressure when fielding a George North hack ahead. Has grown into the tournament, even if you’d like to see him get on the ball a bit more often.
10. Romain Ntamack – 8
A searing break from Ntamack seemed to shake France from their early slumber in Paris. This game was a real return to form in an individual performance which was more art than sport at times.
9. Antoine Dupont – 7.5
Showed fantastic decision-making under pressure for France’s first try, floating a pass out to Penaud when many would put their head down and bulled towards to the try-line. How do you rate a player as good as Dupont, when a bad game for him is an eight out of ten for anybody else?
1. Cyril Baille – 7.5
Continues to be one of France’s best ball carriers, which is no mean feat.
2. Julian Marchand – 7.5
Some real breakdown nous and from Marchand and a couple of decent carries.
3. Uini Atonio – 8
His strength at the set piece came to the fore here and who would bemoan the giant tighthead a try on his 50th cap.
4. Thibaud Flament – 5
A pretty anonymous game from Flament even if he did get through a respectable defensive shift while on the pitch. A mediocre game in what has been an otherwise superb Six Nations for the Toulouse man.
5. Romain Taofifenua – 8
There was a sense that the Toulon second row was pushing the injured Paul Willemse for his spot and his strong display here won’t dampen that argument. Got through a lot of heavy-duty body moving and scored a turnover here.
6. François Cros – 8
An unkind commentator might suggest Cros is keeping the seat warm for Anthony Jelonch. An immense defensive performance, making 12 tackles in the first 25 minutes. The unsung workhouse of this French pack.
7. Charles Ollivon – 6
Maybe didn’t have a starring role but had plenty of effective cameos. Missed a few tackles but otherwise a decent afternoon’s work.
8. Gregory Alldritt – 5
It might be said that his tournament wasn’t Alldritt’s best but that’s not to say he’s had a bad Six Nations. Caught napping for Tomas Williams’ try which lost him a point here.
Replacements – 7: Peato Mauvaka didn’t let the standard set by Marchand drop when he came on and rookie lock Bastien Chalureau looked decent.