15. Yoann Huget – 7
Big improvement from last week. Looked a constant threat with ball in hand, with great acceleration and nifty footwork. Safe under the high ball, with a neat charge down on Biggar as well. Would have been an 8, but he butchered a two on one when he could have set up a try.
14. Wesley Fofana – 5
Had virtually nothing to do in the first half. Slightly busier in the second, but France’s limited game-plan keeps stifling his natural talent. Please move him to inside centre!
13. – Mathieu Bastareaud – 8
France’s most effective player, both in defence and attack, more than justifying his selection. Put in some bone-crunchingly big hits and looked like a bowling ball going forward – knocking Welshmen over left right and centre. Looks fitter than he used to be, too. France need to get the ball into his hands more often, and a potential partnership with Fofana could be an exciting prospect.
12. Maxime Mermoz – 5
Another ineffective game. I had absolutely nothing written in my notebook next to his name, simply becuase he didn’t seem to do anything. Normally excellent for his club, Mermoz is yet another Frenchman shackled by Saint-Andre’s overly pragmatic approach in this championship.
11. Benjamin Fall – 7
Made two sublime catches whilst running at full tilt, and was one of France’s livelier players in the first half. A nuisance in defence as well, but forced off with an injury at half time.
10. Freddie Michalak – 4
Poor kicking out of hand. Poor decision making. Poor passing, with several balls flying into no-man’s land. Stood far too deep, completely unable to get his talented backline moving. An absolute shocker – needs to make way for Trinc-Duc.
9. Maxime Machenaud – 6
Mr Average. He has a decent enough passing and kicking game, and made a couple of little darts around the base, but France demand more from their scrum-halves. Didn’t boss the game in any way, shape, or form. He may well have a good future, but Parra is the man for the here and now.
8. Louis Picamoles – 6
A couple of his trademark barnstorming runs, but otherwise fairly quiet. He tends, like a lot of the French side, to fade in and out of matches. He has the potential to be a world class number eight, but will need more consistency to gain that accolade. Is fitness an issue?
7. Thierry Dusautoir – 6
Doesn’t look his usual sharp self, and clearly isn’t match fit. Put in a decent shift in defence, but needed to show more. As he was Captain, you have to question his (normally excellent) leadership over a team that looked totally rudderless for most of the match.
6. Fulgence Ouedraogo – 7
Had a good game until he was taken off injured. Did a fine job of spoiling Welsh ball at the breakdown. He’s an excellent line-out jumper, and made some strong carries as well.
5. Yoann Maestri – 7
Looked the best of an admittedly poor French pack. At the heart of a couple of powerful mauls, and worked hard both in the loose and the tight. Far from perfect though – he gave away several daft penalties.
4. Jocelino Suta – 5
Completely off the pace at international level. Anonymous all round, replaced by the much more intimidating Taofifenua after 65 mintues.
3. Nicolas Mas – 5
Not the force he used to be. Was once considered the best in the world in his position, but he was mostly ineffective here.
2. Dimitri Szarzewski – 5
Seemed as though he didn’t want to be there. Another French player who failed to live up to his reputation, with none of his usual high-energy work in the loose. Lineout throwing was inconsistent.
1. Yannick Forestier – 6
Got the upper hand on opposite number Adam Jones early in the match, but then faded badly. Taken off after 50 minutes having failed to capitalise on early dominance.
Debaty, Kayser and Ducalon all came on around the 50 minute mark and made an impact in the scrum. The enormous Taofifenua replaced Suta at 65 minutes, but failed to make any sort of difference – likewise Parra. Trinc-Duc was brought on for the injured Fall and had to play out of position at Full-Back.
by Gideon Heugh (@GideonJH)