France player ratings: Antoine Dupont and Damian Penaud star in stunning win ahead of World Cup

Jared Wright
Saint Denis, France. 27th Aug, 2023. Damian PENAUD of France celebrate his try with Antoine DUPONT of France during the Summer Nations Series 2023, rugby union match between France and Australia on August 27, 2023 at Stade de France in Saint-Denis near Paris, France

Damian Penaud and Antoine Dupont celebrate.

Following their 41-17 victory over Australia in their final Rugby World Cup warm-up in Paris, here’s how we rated Fabien Galthie’s charges.

15 Thomas Ramos: Early fumble and was indecisive for Australia’s opening try when he shot up on Andrew Kellaway. He was beaten in the air for their second try. However, he repaid his side with his excellence off the tee and his brilliant 50:22 that resulted in the response try after Fraser McReight scored. On the balance of things, Ramos had a far more positive influence on the game for Les Bleus than his two defensive lapses. 7

14 Damian Penaud: On the scoreboard yet again as he was the recipient of a gorgeous Antoine Dupont cross-kick. He proved to be a slippery customer with ball in hand as he glided through tackles, gaining over 40 metres. He missed a couple of tackles in the first half, but he improved significantly in that area as the game went on. Put the finishing touches on his performance with a simply stunning chip and chase to score. 8

13 Gael Fickou: Not quite as box-office as his centre partner, but it was a vastly improved performance from the 29-year-old compared to his subpar outing against Scotland. Again, he made good defensive reads, linked up well with his outside backs and carried strongly to the line when required. He threw a brilliant skip pass out to assist Penaud. 7

12 Jonathan Danty: Took his first try with extreme ease, powering through Carter Gordon and Mark Nawaqanitawase. He was brilliant over the ball soon after as he lived up to his third flanker billing from his teammates. Australia could not contain the big number 12, who continued to dominate the contacts on defence and on attack. 8

11 Gabin Villiere: Bright and lively from the outset as he went tearing around the pitch and was rewarded for his efforts when Matthieu Jalibert found him with an excellent cross-kick. A tyrant on defence and at the breakdown.

Half-backs star

10 Matthieu Jalibert: A statement performance from the fly-half, which should secure the number 10 jumper for the Rugby World Cup opener. He linked up well with Dupont and was able to play off the scrum-half nicely when he took a penalty quickly, which shifted momentum comfortably in their favour. He was found out a bit on defence, but it was not to costly while he racked up over 100 running metres. 8

9 Antoine Dupont: Les Bleus’ captain was outrageously brilliant once again. He came up with two try assists, laying the platform for Danty to crash over before sending a superb cross-kick out for Penaud’s first score. His booming boot pinned Australia back in their own half, and by the 60th minute, Galthie had seen enough and took his star man off to watch the rest of the from the touchline after a job well done. 8

Busy back rowers

8 Gregory Alldritt: A solid 65-minute shift from the tireless number eight, who thundered into contact on both sides of the ball. He was excellent at the breakdown too, before he was taken off with the opener against the All Blacks in mind. 7

7 Charles Ollivon: The former captain continues to prove his world-class qualities. He was a towering figure at the lineout; whether securing possession on his team’s throws or knicking off Australia’s, he was superb. He defended strongly with his fellow back-rowers and was a threat with ball in hand, too. 7

6 Francois Cros: A workhorse performance, which is a standard from the brilliant back-rower. He led the way on defence and was a pest for the Wallabies’ maul. He was disciplined in his approach, too. He was often on hand to clean up scraps and secure possession with his clear-outs. 7

5 Paul Willemse: A quiet shift by his lofty standards, but the 30-year-old ticked all the boxes he usually does by making his tackles and cleared out rucks. 6

4 Thibaud Flament: Replaced early in the second half after a busy shift on both sides of the ball and at the breakdown. Solid without being brilliant. 6

Front-row battles

3 Uini Atonio: Angus Bell remarkably bettered the big tighthead prop in the scrum. He also threw a few bad passes and was replaced early in the second half. 4

2 Julien Marchand: Had two nightmares at the lineout; he couldn’t hear his teammates for the first, but there was no excuse for the second as he gifted possession back to Australia. A menace at the breakdown won a turnover and made his six tackles but also conceded two penalties. 5

1 Jean-Baptiste Gros: Worked over in the scrum by Taniela Tupou, who comfortably got the better of him in the set-piece. He did put in a tidy defensive shift that included eight tackles and a turnover. 5

Replacements: Nowadays, coaches expect an impact from their bench, and Galthie will not be disappointed with what he got from his eight replacements today. The front-row improved the scrum; Cameron Woki was excellent in the second-row, while Baptiste Couilloud impressed in place of his captain. 8

READ MORE: France hand Australia fifth straight loss in emphatic fashion ahead of World Cup