Antoine Dupont comes up big as France achieve Grand Slam glory
FRANCE 25-13 ENGLAND
The Grand Slam and the 2022 Six Nations title has gone to a France side that look like they are only going to get better. Hold on tight for the 2023 World Cup.
Just as they did against Wales, last weekend, France started fast and were 8-0 up after 15 minutes through a Melvyn Jaminet penalty and a Gael Fickou try in the corner. Jaminet missed that conversion and, later in the half, a penalty.
Marcus Smith kicked penalties, either side of a successful Jaminet attempt, and the scoreline was 11-6 as we headed to the break. France, though, had one last punch to throw. Romain Ntamack went close before Francois Cros went closer. Try France and some breathing room.
England showed some signs of life with a try early in the second half from Freddie Steward. Marcus Smith nailed a touchline conversion, but the likes of Fickou and Gregory Alldritt stepped up with big plays to stall English momentum.
France then settled matters through who else but their inspirational scrumhalf Antoine Dupont. He ran a super support line and glided over to get the try that effectively clinched the Grand Slam.
Here's how we rated Eddie Jones' men:
ENGLAND PLAYER RATINGS
George Furbank - 6
Came in from the cold and was one of the best things about England in the first half. Quieter in the second half, in an attacking sense, and missed three of four tackles attempted.
Freddie Steward - 7
Showed great foot-work and strength to get over for his try. Not as stellar in defence, where he fell off a couple of tackles.
Joe Marchant - 6
Made a couple of great punching impacts in that second half comeback.
Henry Slade - 6
Ran into heavy traffic on a couple of costly occasions. Showed up well in the lead-up to Steward's try.
Jack Nowell - 7
May have been fortunate to avoid a card when Jaminet was up-ended. Made a few decent carries and tackles before going off injured after only 26 minutes.
Marcus Smith - 7
Will benefit greatly, in the long run, from a very solid championship. Kicked well and came to the fore when England started to cut into the French lead.
Ben Youngs - 6
Not the first scrumhalf to be outshone and outdone by Dupont. Some bright moments but was not given much to work with.
Ellis Genge - 7
After getting the better of Tadhg Furlong, last week, Uini Antonio really served it up to him. Made a last-gasp tackle on Ntamack but France followed up to score. Made one galloping first half carry to leave a few men in blue for dead.
Jamie George - 8
Scrum did not have it all their own way, this week. Grew into the game as it went on, and did admirably in the loose.
Will Stuart - 7
Stuck his tackles and made a couple of powerful carries.
Maro Itoje - 5
Superb against Ireland but much quieter this week. Gave up a couple of turnovers and four missed tackles, too. He is human, after all.
Nick Isiekwe - 5
Game passed him by without him making much of an impact.
Courtney Lawes - 6
Scrapped away all night but no lasting impact on proceedings.
Sam Underhill - 8
Fought like a dog all night, and caused France some problems. Led the way, from both sides, with 14 tackles in the first hour of play.
Sam Simmonds - 6
Missed a big chance to stake a claim for the No.8 jersey, heading into the summer.
Elliot Daly (for Nowell '26)
Kyle Sinckler (for Stuart '50)
Ollie Chessum (for Isiekwe '63)
Joe Marler (for Genge '64)
Alex Dombrandt (for Underhill '64)
Harry Randall (for Youngs '65)
George Ford (for Smith '76) - N/A