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Player ratings: Pole position

OPINION: France moved into pole position at the head of the Six Nations courtesy of a 30-24 win over title rivals Ireland at the Stade de France.


The hosts led 19-7 at the break thanks to a try from Antoine Dupont and 14 points from the boot of Melvyn Jaminet to which Mack Hansen responded for Ireland.

After France’s fullback kicked them further ahead, the visitors scored 14 points in four second-half minutes through Joey Carbery’s conversions of scores from Josh van der Flier and Jamison Gibson-Park.

This brought Ireland within a point with 30 minutes remaining before Cyril Baille grabbed France’s second try.

Carbery then closed the gap to three points from the tee but although France was denied a third touchdown by the TMO, referee Angus Gardner instead awarded the simple penalty with which Jaminet closed out the win.

Paul Smith rates the French players!

15. Melvyn Jaminet – 7
Thumped over a tricky conversion in the opening minute and went on to look a very composed goal-kicker who finished with a 20-point haul. Blotted his copybook with some indecision under the restart from which Mack Hansen grabbed Ireland’s opening try. Denied a late try by the TMO.


14. Damian Penaud – 6
On a different wavelength to Jaminet when both stood and watched Hansen pluck a restart from the air and cruise to the French line.

Showed some lovely balanced running to put France within range of the visitors’ line ahead of Baille’s try.

13. Gael Fickou – 7
Gave away an early penalty for a deliberate knock-on but otherwise put in a hard-working display against the excellent Gary Ringrose. His chip ahead kept the attack moving which secured France’s late penalty.

12. Yoram Moefana – 7
France’s new centre was straight into the game with a neat step and offload following a quick lineout. Thereafter played a prominent part in a backline which always threatened.


11. Gabin Villiere – 8.5
Won France’s first penalty which Jaminet translated into three points with a tremendous kick chase and posed Ireland with plenty of defensive questions every time he touched the ball.

On more than one occasion showed huge strength in contact to buy time for his support.

10. Romain Ntmack – 7
Created France’s opening try with a brilliant inside ball and made a couple of big early hits. Showed his full range of skills including a delicately weighted chip and a ‘show reel’ back-of-the-hand flip which kept a move alive that eventually led to three points. In the debit column, France’s flyhalf threw a couple of loose passes which put his side under pressure at important times.

9. Antoine Dupont – 9
The emotion of la Marseillaise had barely subsided when France’s talisman claimed the opening try.

Always a threat from the base and showed some sublime touches in addition to managing the game to good effect and taking very few wrong options.

1. Cyril Baille – 8.5
Showed his mobility with a number of good defensive interventions and a couple of strong carries only to then knock on when France had a turnover on Ireland’s 22.

Timed his run superbly then withstood some heavy hits to claim a rare international try in the third quarter.
Finished with an honourable draw in his personal scrum contest with Tadgh Furlong.

2. Julien Marchand – 6
Tried a quick throw which resulted in a turnover when his team had good field position then wasted another first-half opportunity when he overthrew his jumper. Worked hard in the loose without hitting the heights of which he is capable.

3. Uini Atonio – 8.5
Slick hands from the backs will earn rave reviews in France’s first-minute try but it was Atonio’s powerful burst which turned the Irish defence. Put big hits on Furlong and Josh van der Flier during a first half in which he really shone. Won a penalty at the second scrum and another important three-pointer shortly before the break when his opposite number Andrew Porter was forced to turn his shoulders inwards.

4. Cameron Woki – 6
Always an aerial threat to Ireland but less prominent in the loose than last week before being part of a mass French forward substitution following their 54th minute try.

5. Paul Willemse – 8
Knocked an unsympathetic Ntmack pass forward in the early stages but soon compensated by disrupting Ireland’s lineout then winning a turnover on the ground. Stepped by Gibson-Park for Ireland’s third try but otherwise put in a typically uncompromising display.

6. Francois Cros – 6.5
Made plenty of tackles in an industrious shift before forcing a crucial lineout turnover in his own 22 when Ireland were pressing hard in the fourth quarter.

7. Anthony Jelonch – 6
Won a valuable penalty in defence when he tackled Bundee Aki to ground then sprung up to contest possession on the ground.  Lost his support to give Ireland the penalty from which Josh van der Flier claimed his country’s second try then almost immediately pinged at the breakdown to give Ireland the field position from which Jamison Gibson-Park grabbed the visitors’ third touchdown.

8. Gregory Alldritt – 8
Did the hard yards for his side time and again. His importance to les Bleus was shown by him being retained for the full 80 minutes.


16. Peato Mauvaka – 6.5
Hit his jumpers reliably and worked hard in the loose.

17. Jean-Baptiste Gros – 6.5
Every bit as solid in the set-piece as the outstanding Baille.

18. Demba Bamba – 6.5
Penalised for maul entry soon after his arrival but carried hard and direct on more than one occasion.

19. Romain Taofifenua – 7
Performed well in the lineout during the closing half-hour.

20. Thibault Flament – 6.5
The former Wasp arrived just before the hour mark and made an immediate impact with a big hit that dislodged the ball. Conceded the 72nd-minute penalty which brought Ireland back to within three points.

21. Dylan Cretin – 7
A prominent carrier in the key late attack which clinched the spoils for France.

22. Maxime Lucu – 6.5
Replaced his skipper in the closing stages and orchestrated a tense finale.

23. Thomas Ramos

Source: RugbyPass

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