France v Wales 6 Nations 2013: Wales player ratings

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15. Leigh Halfpenny – 8
It was so fitting that Halfpenny had the honour of booting the ball into the crowd at the end. Being charged down by Yoann Huget was a solitary, insignificant blemish on another brilliant individual performance that included strong scramble defence, one electric run, high-ball sturdiness and sniper-like accuracy from the tee.

14. Alex Cuthbert – 6½
While unspectacular because of the claustrophobic nature of the contest, Cuthbert was extremely solid after being out-jumped by Benjamin Fall early on. Dancing powerfully away from trouble, the Cardiff Blue probed in midfield and topped the match statistics for defenders beaten – only battering-ram Mathieu Bastareaud matched him with five.

13. Jonathan Davies – 6
Admirably emerged from a nightmare last week with something far more assured – Davies was poised when leading the defensive line and, on the odd occasion he was put into space, trucked up toughly. Three very decent punts as well.

12. Jamie Roberts – 7
Far less pedestrian than over the course of Wales horror run, Roberts fronted up to the most fearsome physical battle in the game – a stand-off with Bastareaud. Selfless and unyielding throughout his 50th cap.

11. George North – 6
Burst into life by barging through the heart of the French defence mid-way through the second half and decided the match with a clinical, predatory finish at the death. Largely anonymous apart from that, but he will not be bothered. And nor should he be.

10. Dan Biggar – 6½
Dodgy moments – including a feeble first-half drop-goal attempt – are thankfully fading and although Wales’ attack markedly lacked penetration at times, the deft chip for George North’s try displayed great vision. Biggar’s general kicking out of hand crucially eclipsed that of indifferent opposite number Freddie Michalak.

9. Mike Phillips – 7½
An errant pass on the stroke of half-time aside, this was infinitely better. If ever a match descends into trench warfare, Phillips is the first you would want beside you. Terrifically tenacious around the fringes in attack and defence, making one searing break and shackling Luis Picamoles, there was also improved distribution and (largely) well-directed box-kicking.

1. Gethin Jenkins – 7
Seemingly inspired by a return across The Channel, this sleeping Lion is back in business. Excellent on the floor – winning a couple of penalties – and about par at set-piece, Jenkins repaid Rob Howley’s faith.

2. Richard Hibbard – 6½
Skewed one throw in the opening quarter but Hibbard hit contact wholeheartedly to justify his selection and did not shirk a tough tussle with similarly-coiffeured Dimitri Szarzewski – his senior by almost 50 caps.

3. Adam Jones – 6
Evidently still on the road back to full fitness, this was a second consecutive failure to assert consistent scrum dominance – a measure of how much is expected of Jones. Showed signs of splintering towards the end of an honest 75-minute shift, but stood firm to force a decisive penalty in the final quarter.

4. Andrew Coombs – 8
The exuberant enthusiasm of a man with nothing to lose is propelling this Dragon to new-found heights. Building on an impressive debut in Cardiff, Coombs was combative and industrious, a total nuisance all evening. Covering plenty of the Stade de France in the loose, his dexterity in the lineout was a big help.

5. Ian Evans – 7½
Another to get through a heroic amount of hard work, finishing joint top of the tackle charts with 14 alongside Justin Tipuric, many of them as Wales looked in danger of buckling. Can be even more influential in Italy after a fortnight to find peak fitness.

6. Ryan Jones – 8
Charismatic, composed leadership was essential on foreign ground and Jones provided unerring guidance through an inevitable physiological barrier. Massively disruptive, marrying choke tackles with merciless harrying of any ball-carrier in front of him. My man of the match.

7. Justin Tipuric – 7
Unable to impose himself on the breakdown as much as he would have liked, but was nimble enough to contribute elsewhere by linking attacks, securing line-out ball at the tail and scything everything that moved.

8. Toby Faletau – 6½
One missed tackle on Huget in the first half was a collector’s item – Faletau is one of Test rugby’s most immaculate defenders. Content to immerse himself in the dirty work and is growing as a running threat.

Replacements:
Unfortunately, a lack of scrummaging strength was shown up here, with Ken Owens and Paul James struggling badly in the tight. Lloyd Williams was lively, but the rest were not in the fray long enough to make an impact.

By Charlie Morgan

Follow Charlie on Twitter: @CharlieFelix

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12 comments on “France v Wales 6 Nations 2013: Wales player ratings

  1. Jones and Halfpenny would get a nine in my book so a minor quibble but they were complete performances. Looks like Jones is now a man we should drop for a few games then bring him in as captain. His touch finder into the French 22 in that last quarter was a game changing moment.

    I’m not sure what was going on with Jones – random scrum penalty generator from Clancy? We give away something like 3 pens on the trot at scrum so we were all terrified with the scores tight and scrum in our own 22 – Clancy then gives the penalty us. Couldn’t understand it but I was delighted with it.

    Biggar needs a run of games to see if developing his confidence will help him improve. Same could be said of the team – I expect us to be less tight now as the monkey is off our back. Things like away wins in France have a habit of boosting Wales immensely.

    I can see Eng losing a game somewhere so everyone except France is still in the mix. Exciting.

  2. I don’t know why jones isn’t full time captain anyway. He’s proved time and again over the last four years he’s a leader of men. Shame his form dropped off slightly pre-world cup. Now he’s back, he’s fit and he’s obviously hungry for more. Don’t think he took a backward step against the monstrous French pack. Coombs was excellent as was halfpenny. Everyone else was pretty bog standard. Roberts rating is a tad generous, he struggled to break the gain line and impose himself like we no he can.

  3. Thought Coombs really stood out. Very quick around the field and working incredibly hard.

    Don’t think Clancy was using the patented referee’s Random Scrum Penalty Generator, or at least not too much. Adam Jones appeared to be in awful trouble in a couple of scrums on the trot and then all of a sudden destroyed his opposite number. Weird. Is he fully fit?

    Gethin Jenkins appears to have lost his scrummaging ability but was decent around the field.

    Would mark all the backs apart from Ha’Penny, down a point or two for a massive lack of imagination and execution. The try was decent but that was it.

    Wales were pretty lucky that France were so utterly abject and even more lacking in imagination and execution

    On the weekend’s evidence, I’d take Scotland to beat both Wales and France – not that the Scots normally string 2 performances like that together!

    • Gethin did look partially back to his best in the loose but faded fast. Too much easy French living – did get at least two crucial turnovers though.

      As for lack of imagination and the future for Wales I don’t think you can read too much into how this game was played. France came to “play ugly” and they smashed it up the middle time and time again. It’s what happens when teams are low on confidence – better to hold the ball than risk a cockup. Also they were playing in France, a place hardly anyone ever wins, so I think it’s understandable that wins there are usually ground out.

      Now Wales have the monkey off I, certainly expect them to start playing more but wouldn’t discount how well they played on Saturday – huge defensive and controlled effor.

      • All good points Brighty. Its doing Jenkins no favours playing behind Sheridan

        However, it seemed to me that Wales had no ideas beyond using North and Roberts to smash the ball up the middle. Which was part of the problem vs Ireland as well. Roberts, Cuthbert and to a lesser extent North, are being read too easily now and defences are ready for them – its the Andy Powell situation all over again.

        What was good to see was the forwards using the pick and go in the lead-up to the try. They made their way down the pitch rapidly doing so and it set up the position for the try

        Wish they’d done it a bit more (think Ireland and England could have used it more as well)

  4. Biggar was superb. Not sure why certain areas of the press seem down on him. The amunt of times we were crabbing across midfield due to big smashed in midfield, and he took the ball and played us into the corners was superb.

    We won by playing most of the rugby in the right parts of the field, and that came from Biggar.

    Creativity was wanting, but that happens when you play Roberts at 12 who lacks the passing game to put Davies into space.

    I’d rank Biggar as one of the better players in that game, only Jones, Evans, Coombes and Halfpenny did better imo.

  5. On Adam Jones’ scrummaging I would disregard anything to do with the scrum on that surface (for once a turf worse than the Millenium Stadium’s ) but I do agree my heart was in my throat when Clancey blew his whistle for that penalty after the three in a row to France.

    Seems to be a “neutral” view that Wales ground out a win against an even worse side unlike another team that “came of age “in a similarly tight match last weekend. Well not so long France were tournament favourites and a 10 point win in Paris is not to be sniffed at by anyone who knows their rugby history .

    I’d agree with the above player points and would hope that Wales can kick on from here now the monkey’s off their backs.

  6. Footnote -James Hook’s face and body language was such a contradiction in terms post match clearly gutted that he didn’t get on and that Biggar probably cemented his place with that kick for the try but wanting to celebrate the win and put on a brave face you had to feel for him really.

  7. Ryan Jones is the (largely) unsung hero of Welsh rugby. He’s been involved in 3 Grand slams, one as captain, (he also captained a bit last year when Warburton was injured), he very seldom puts in a bad performance and sometimes is truly excellent.

    Where he seems to suffer is he can turn his hand to any of 5 positions at the back of the scrum (maybe less so at 7 but definitely 4, 5, 6 and 8) and so he ends up stuck on the bench. James Hook suffers slightly the same problem at 10, 12, 13 and 15.

    Anyway he seems to be an inspirational, respectful and intelligent captain and is my pick for heading up the Lions.

    Ryan Jones one of Wales’ greatest players ever? Discuss.

  8. Gethin looks he’s staying out of the pâtisserie and staying in the gym, not back to his best, but a good step forwards. Can’t argue with any of the marks, maybe an 8 for Philips for offering so much threat round the fringes and being top carrier.

    France were abysmal. OK if you are going to smash it up the middle try actually competing at the breakdown so you can get the ball back and smash it up again.

    North took his try well, but would he have got over a proper full back, rather than a small fly half? Probably not. Feel sorry for Michalak, probably deserves to be on the bench as replacement SH behind Parra not vilified for turning in one of the worst ever performances from a top tier international FH.

    PSA has only ever bought success through assembling galaticos. Wrong man to be a national coach and steward of the national game. Still any side that can go from losing to Tonga to being the better side in an RWC final in the space of 3 weeks can’t be written off.

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