by Jacob Jaffa |
Final Score: Wales 20 – France 19
Strong French side resists traditional collapse but moronic actions of single player cost them the game. Wales march on, but not convincingly.
1. Wyn Jones – 6/10
Didn’t hear his name much but Welsh scrum held up very well and forward power was evident in the second half. Will be tested as a starter against either one of the potential semi final opponents. Respect to him and fellow prop Francis for going the full 80
2. Ken Owens – 7/10
Part of Wales’ core leadership group. Kept the line out secure (it has been shaky in the last year). Only went 70mins but was more involved than his props
3. Thomas Francis – 6/10
Like Jones quiet but industrious. Carried and scrummaged well.
4. Jake Ball – 8/10
Rarely was a carry made without him being involved somewhere. Didn’t have a lot to do at the lineout as the ball was put more into space than touch.
5. Alun Wyn Jones- 7/10
Not his best performance. Troubled the French maul well but didn’t put in the immense shift we have come to expect from him. This may not be a criticism though, as it shows the rest of the team taking responsibility and lifting the weight from him. Will likely be remembered as the Welsh equivalent of Parisse or O’Connell (only perhaps a little better).
6. Aaron Wainwright- 7/10
Didn’t trouble the breakdown as much he did against Australia but will still be Wales’ new Warburton as he matures. Penalised a few times but showed great vision and pace to score the try that kept his side in touch. Sacrificed his facial features on the alter of a French lock’s elbow in return for the blessings of the rugby gods.
7. Justin Tipuric – 6/10
Strong carries and good work securing ball but some sloppy errors, such as giving away a penalty to France on the 5 metre line. One spectacular tackle/turnover. Not his best but very much enough.
8. Josh Navidi – 6/10
Wales premier carrier and a key man in defence. Forced off with a hamstring injury and replaced by Moriarty who spent all of two minutes on the field before being given a yellow for a high shot on Fickou. Wales will really, really hope he is available next week.
9. Gareth Davies – 7/10
Typical performance from him. Plays his role of shooting up to pressure the 10 very well. Seemingly few attempts for his trademark interceptions but that may have been a tactical move. Distributed well and kicked accurately.
10. Dan Biggar – 8/10
Bosses the game incredibly well. Kicked cleverly and accurately, keeping the ball in play to tire the French, especially when they were down a man. Just edged the aerial battle over Medard and Ntamack but his goal kicking was far better.
11. Josh Adams- 6/10
A quieter game from him. Starved of ball on the outside and did not add a vast amount in attack. Highlight was a crunching shot on Alldritt in the 22. Worked hard.
12. Hadleigh Parkes – 6/10
Came into the game a little late. Hammered by Huget in the first half and felt rushed in distributing. Thrived with the man advantage, running hard and straight into space, but cannot rely on that against very organised defences.
13. Owen Watkin – 7/10
A late replacement for the injured J Davies, who Wales will be desperate to have back next week. Not as physical as Davies but defended very well. Sublime tap on to put Alun Wyn and Ken Owens in space in the first half, though nothing came of it.
14. George North – 8/10
Played an unusually large part in the kicking game but did so well. Chased with great enthusiasm and put extreme pressure on the French receivers. Some good solid tackles but was caught out by an Ntamack kick-pass
15. Liam Williams – 8/10
Consistently one of Wales’ best. Has come on a long way since joining Saracens. Covers the backfield extremely well and kicked with good accuracy and intent. Defended hard but failed to break the French defence down with his usual gliding runs. Medard had a good game but was outmatched here.
1. Jefferson Poirot – 8/10
Very active game. Carried well and scrummaged hard. France were probably the underdogs in the set piece but the front row redressed the balance. Made a key turnover deep in the second half with Wales gaining momentum
2. Guilhem Guirado – 8/10
Back in the starting XV as captain after a rumoured spat with management saw him dropped and fuelled speculation about a French revolution in the style of 2011. Was everywhere in the loose. Carried hard, marshalled the lineout and maul and played his heart out for his country. Personally, I’m getting a bit sick of his countrymen letting him down.
3. Rabah Slimani – 7/10
Made life difficult for his opposite number at scrum time. Was relatively quiet otherwise but in a good, industrious way.
4. Bernard le Roux – 7/10
Quiet first half but really took it upon himself to make up for his second-row partner’s work after the red card. Solid lineout operator but understandably struggled at the scrum when working with a flanker alongside him.
5. Sebastien Vahaamahina – 0/10
Played an industrious and dangerous 60 minutes and it was his try that put France ahead after he rode some tackles nicely. Sadly, however, undid all good work by the mindless action that led to his sending off, elbowing Wainwright in the face very, very clearly and maliciously. Cost France the game ultimately and should be ashamed. To the bastille with him!
6. Wenceslas Lauret – 9/10
The man with the most Christmassy name in rugby played a blinder today. He was everywhere at the breakdown and made some devastating carries. Deserved a try and a win, especially in what may well be his last world cup.
7. Charles Ollivon- 8/10
Similar to Lauret but not quite as noticeable. Slowed Welsh ball down very well and stalled their attack. Excellent game
8. Gregory Aldritt – 7/10
Strong physical presence and good breakdown work. Stout defence but struggled with a facial cut all game and was replaced a little earlier than he would probably have liked.
9. Antoine Dupont – 6/10
Would have been a good game from many other scrum halves but frustrating from Dupont when we know how impactful he can be. Largely limited to distribution and never really go going in terms of his often sparkling runs. Some of his passes looked ripe for an interception.
10. Romain Ntamack – 7/10
An excellent performance but cut short by injury. Questions about his selection with such little experience very much answered here. Showed excellent game management and kicked well. Key part of France’s free-flowing attack. His two missed goal kicks, both of which hit the post, ended up being the difference, along with a missed drop-goal from replacement Lopez.
11. Yoann Huget – 8/10
Another selection that was queried by fans, Huget encapsulates the French stereotype. When he turns up he is box office but when he falls he falls hard. Today was a good day for him. He put severe pressure on the outside defence and gathered a kick-pass well to gain momentum. Excellent defence (see Hadleigh Parkes hit).
12. Gael Fickou – 8/10
Mercurial. Glided through defenders with silky, twisting runs and offloaded very well. Strong in defence. Deserved a try.
13. Virimi Vakatawa – 6/10
Some strong carries and solid hits but he can be better. Didn’t give France the physical presence and go forward that he often does, though he gave enough.
14. Damian Penaud – 5/10
Starved of ball and was clearly frustrated by this. Held onto it too long in the second half. Beat defenders but not in the quantities now expected of him. Offloaded nicely to put Vakatawa over the line.
15. Maxime Medard – 7/10
A good game. Slightly outmatched by Williams but still covered ground and tracked ball well. Seemed to be edging the aerial battle in favour of France in the first half but deteriorated after Ntamack went off, poking a couple of kicks too far and giving Wales a release for the pressure he had built up. Ran well and was key in some flashy attacking moves.