France v Wales 6 Nations 2013: Wales player ratings
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.
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