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Player ratings: Close but no cigar

Sun, 23 Oct 2011 00:00
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Finally! The French turned up at the 2011 World Cup just in time for the final where they ran hosts New Zealand ever so close, going down 8-7 at Eden Park in Auckland.

The team finally looked like they had a gameplan and were relishing their underdog status in what could have been the ultimate ploy of playing possum all tournament only to unleash their true potential in the final.

Having been written off by all an sundry the French came to play and could have broken New Zealand hearts yet again had a couple of kicks gone over.

France and their fearless leader Thierry Dusautoir can be very proud of their efforts in the final, although they were lucky to be there in the first place.

Timmy Hancox rates the French players:

15 Maxime Medard:
Utalised his running game far better than he has in the past few games and was a danger whenever he was give half the chance to run.
7/10

14 Vincent Clerc:
Didn't have too many attacking opportunities, but kept Richard Kahui honest and did his reputation no harm.
6/10

13 Aurelien Rougerie:
Organised the defence very well and crashed through Conrad Smith's tackles on a few occasions with his aggressive running.
7/10

12 Maxime Mermoz:
He straightened the line and did some great work in his tough match-up with Ma'a Nonu. Off-loaded well in the tackle and kept the momentum going forward.
7/10

11 Alexis Palisson:
He was great under the high ball and while he had few opportunities to run, he linked well with the other backs to keep the ball alive.
6/10

10 Morgan Parra:
Went off in the 11th minute after making a great tackle on Nonu and came back later for five more minutes, but the blow to his head meant he couldn't carry on.
7/10

9 Dimitri Yachvili:
One or two aimless kicks but he did pile the pressure on the All Blacks' back three in the second half and provided good quick ball to the backline to play with.
7/10

8 Imanol Harinordoquy:
He was incredible in the line-outs. Won all his own ball and stole a couple of All Blacks throws. Carried the ball up strongly and drove defenders off the ball at the breakdowns.
9/10

7 Julien Bonnaire:
Dogged and determined all over the park and whether it was making tackles, protecting the ball at the ruck of keeping the All Blacks loose trio honest he was there.
9/10

6 Thierry Dusautoir (captain):
Made some incredible tackles and harassed the All Blacks halfbacks into making some bad mistakes. Scored a great try and was captain courageous going well above and beyond the call of duty.
10/10

5 Lionel Nallet:
Made more than his fair share of tackles and was used to batter the ball up field with some strong work at first receiver.
8/10

4 Pascal Pape:
Tough and strong and didn't back down from the challenge presented by the bruiser big Brad Thorn.
7/10

3 Nicolas Mas:
Scrummed strongly and had Tony Woodcock under all kinds of pressure. Made life tough for the New Zealand scrum.
7/10

2 William Servat:
Always the first man clearing the ball at the ruck and made as many tackles as any of the outstanding French loose forwards. Executed his line-out throwing to perfection and was top quality all round the field.
8/10

1 Jean-Baptiste Poux:
Penalised for collapsing scrum a couple of times but moved around the park making tackles well and did a good job in loose play.
6/10

Replacements:

16 Dimitri Szarzewski (On for William Servat, 66th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

17 Fabien Barcella (On for Jean-Baptiste Poux 66th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

18 Julien Pierre (On for Pascal Pape 69th min):
Not enough time to be rated.

19 Fulgence Ouedraogo:
Not used.

20 Francois Trinh-Duc (On for Morgan Parra, 11th-17th mins - blood bin; on again 22nd min):
Took his chance at flyhalf well and was superb on attack with excellent decision-making with two clean line breaks and beating four defenders. He did miss a drop-goal and a long-range penalty that might have stolen a late victory.
8/10

21 Jean Marc Doussain (On for Dimitri Yachvili, 72nd min):
Not enough time to be rated.

22 Damien Traille (On for Vincent Clerc, 45th min):
Brilliant chase to take the ball off Israel Dagg and made two crucial turnovers for his side, showing his experience.
7/10

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