AWS Game Notes

Analysis: Ntamack intercept has France dreaming of 2010

Ten long years France had waited for a win in Cardiff and when it came there was remarkable symmetry with their 2010 success.

Ten long years France had waited for a win in Cardiff and when it came there was remarkable symmetry with their 2010 success.

That day was also in Round 3 with a French team who were two from two and looking to underline their status as Championship contenders.

And where on Saturday it was Romain Ntamack’s intercept try that proved the dagger in Wales’ side, back in 2010 there were two of them in a 26-20 success.

First Alexis Palisson pounced on a floating James Hook pass, before François Trinh-Duc juggled an attempted offload and raced down the right on the stroke of half-time.

It is the latter that is so reminiscent of Ntamack. On the far side of the pitch, a fly-half taking a chance and then sprinting home unopposed.

Unlike Ntamack, it came directly from a ruck, with Trinh-Duc gambling and then juggling the ball before sprinting clear.

Ntamack’s gamble was of a different kind. Realising that Wales had an overlap, the fly-half went for the 50-50, read the play perfectly with Nick Tompkins’ decision to delay his pass meaning there was only one option remaining.

From there, he had to outpace Hadleigh Parkes to the line, although as Jacob Stockdale found out last year, that is not always easy.

Ntamack, though, has remarkable pace for a fly-half, and was never in danger of being caught. He added the conversion and a later penalty, and with 17 points in total, was the architect of this French success.

Of course Romain was not the first Ntamack to score an intercept try in Cardiff. Go back 20 years and it was his father Emile doing the same in a rather more straightforward 36-3 victory.

France will be hoping that the parallels do not end there.

It was, after all, in 2010 that they last won the title, and a Grand Slam to boot.

That year they also had a young half-back pairing. Morgan Parra, 21, and Trinh-Duc, 23, were pulling the strings just as Antoine Dupont, 23, and Ntamack, 20, are doing this year.

There was also a 21-year-old centre by the name of Mathieu Bastareaud, who played a pivotal role in the Championship success.

On Saturday it was Arthur Vincent who, in just his third Test and second start, was given the responsibility of marshalling the French defence.

He did just that, making 21 tackles including the crucial one on Tompkins that led to Camille Chat’s match-winning turnover.

All that at just 20 years of age.

France still have a long way to go to match the 2010 vintage in winning the Grand Slam. Their recent record in Edinburgh has not been good while no one has forgotten Johnny Sexton’s drop goal the last time Ireland were in Paris.

However there are some omens in France’s favour as they look to extend this renaissance under Fabien Galthié.

Could another crucial intercept spark more French success?