Player head-to-heads from England v France

Date published: February 10 2019

Following a 44-8 win for England over France in the Six Nations, we take a look at who won the player head-to-heads at Twickenham on Sunday.

Elliot Daly (England) v Yoann Huget (France): The big man from Toulouse had a very busy but competent day as England bombed the French back three. Daly’s aerial skills held up well too, but his footballing intellect and acceleration sets him apart from other full-backs. Winner: Elliot Daly

Chris Ashton (England) v Gaël Fickou (France): Despite some nice touches in attack, Fickou’s yellow card showed the pressure ‘Ash the Splash’ put on his opponent. Nice footwork to set up Jonny May too shows he’s ever trying to improve his game. Winner: Chris Ashton

Henry Slade (England) v Mathieu Bastareaud (France): Slade was magnificent, no other word. For the third Test running, his speed off the defensive line was exceptional. The Chief’s defence, decisions and pace are there for all to see and Bastareaud was sluggish, predictable and ponderous by comparison. He’s often been called a one-trick pony but as his pace declines, he’s fast becoming a no-trick carthorse. Winner: Henry Slade

Manu Tuilagi (England) v Geoffrey Doumayrou (France): With England’s game based upon an aerial bombardment, Tuilagi’s big carries were less evident than in Dublin whilst Doumayrou defended manfully all afternoon and showed deft passing in a couple of direct attacks. Winner: Honours Even

Jonny May (England) v Damian Penaud (France): May’s all-round game is now complete and we saw pace for his first try, intellect for his second and footwork for his third. It says a lot about Penaud that despite that hat-trick, May wasn’t a foregone conclusion as the winner here and some deft touches by the Clermont man and pace for his try demonstrate he’s one for the future. However, on a day where he showed the world all his formidable skills the England wing flew sky high. Winner: Jonny May

Owen Farrell (England) v Camille Lopez (France): Once again, Farrell held a Test match in his vice like grip as he enabled score after score. Everything he touched turned to gold, whether it be passes, tries, kicks, runs or turnovers. A sublime performance from the Saracen and one that Lopez would wish he could go even halfway to emulating, but France must show some selectorial consistency and stick with their fly-half if they want him to learn. Winner: Owen Farrell

Ben Youngs (England) v Morgan Parra (France): Whilst everything good France managed in the first-half started with their veteran scrum-half, Youngs had ball on a plate and feasted himself upon the variety of dishes his pack served up with an assured and confident display, using switch passes to good effect to change the angle of attack. Both half-backs executed the box kick with skill, but Youngs’ pinpoint accuracy and depth of punt were superior. It’s worth mentioning that replacement Antoine Dupont’s impact and pace in the latter stages caused England headache after headache. Winner: Ben Youngs

Billy Vunipola (England) v Louis Picamoles (France): In the first-half, you had to check if Picamoles was on the pitch, such was his anonymity and lack of impact as England forced him to focus his improving work-rate upon defence. But his trademark rumbles came back in the second to good effect and he made five or six powerful close quarter runs. Meanwhile, big Billy chugged and puffed all around the pitch, hammering the midfield and battering the gain-line to win collision after collision. Winner: Billy Vunipola

Tom Curry (England) v Yacouba Camara (France): There’s been a lot of focus on youngster Camara but as yet he’s failed to develop the game needed at this level. Curry meanwhile has forged an impressive partnership with Mark Wilson and they hunt as a pair. Time and time again they double teamed to tackle and jackal and France couldn’t cope with the work over the ball of the young openside. Exceptional once again and he carried well too. Winner: Tom Curry

Mark Wilson (England) v Arthur Iturria (France): Iturria is France’s emerging hope whilst Wilson is England’s emerging superstar. Another monstrous shift from the Falcon who set the tone of the match from his first bone crunching tackle after 54 seconds that led to May’s first score, to that 79th minute turnover under the French posts. Carries, catches, tackles and turnovers punctuate Wilson’s phenomenal work-rate and there was only one winner here as Wilson blew his opponent off the pitch. Winner: Mark Wilson

George Kruis (England) v Félix Lambey (France): The lightweight Lambey gave everything in defeat but Kruis is a seasoned campaigner and his class came through, as he pressured the visitors throwing and put in his usual shift in the tackle. A key moment was the Saracen’s line-out steal on England’s line in the first-half. Winner: George Kruis

Courtney Lawes (England) v Sébastien Vahaamahina (France): Vahaamahina was far from France’s worst player, but Lawes was close to England’s best. The shuddering hit on Bastareaud will live in the minds of both players for a long time, if for entirely different reasons. Winner: Courtney Lawes

Kyle Sinckler (England) v Jefferson Poirot (France): Sinckler’s hands are those of an international centre but his mind holds him back, as yet another display of petulance, when he tried to repeal the guillotine on Iturria’s headgear, almost saw him carded and this detracts from his overall performance. Poirot held on well and was prominent in carry and defence with his trademark jackaling causing England a few headaches. Winner: Honours even

Jamie George (England) v Guilhem Guirado (France): Both men played magnificently, and went at each other hammer and tongs but with big smiles on each other’s faces. Both were dynamic in the loose, with Guirado running line after line into the England defence in the second-half. Both were also immovable in the scrum but Guirado’s three wonderful long defensive line-out throws under pressure sees him edge this battle by a hair. Winner: Guilhem Guirado

Mako Vunipola (England) v Demba Bamba (France): The elder Vunipola’s 13 carries in the first-half show how important he is to England’s first phase play and Eddie Jones will be very concerned about his injury. Nevertheless, he still put in 50 minutes of world class forward play against a young Bamba, who held on well and will learn a lot from the experience. Winner: Mako Vunipola

Bench impact: England did blow hot and cold during the second-half and showed nowhere near the dominance they did in the first. A lot of this was down to the impact of Dupont whose pace and variety ripped the England primary defence apart on four separate occasions. He was aided and abetted by the new cap at full-back, Thomas Ramos and the power of Paul Willemse at lock. For England, it was great to see Dan Cole wrecking yet another international scrum as the veteran Tiger returned to international rugby, but all in all, this was one area where France had a small edge. Winner: France

by James While