England v France match, the following thoughts from David ‘Flats’ Flatman, former England, Saracens and Bath prop who commentated on the match, may be of use:
“England didn’t just manage to keep a lid on Dupont and his side, they chose to outplay them in what was a game for the ages.
“This was a match of two excellent sides at absolutely full chat: lungs screaming, legs feeling like rooted oaks.
“These players somehow refused to stop giving all they had for their respective causes. My main feeling, on the final whistle, was absolute respect for both sets of players. They all gave their everything.
“Whisper it only, but could the days of England kicking for the sake of kicking be over? Could it be that England no longer regard the oval ball as a ticking time bomb?
“What we saw at Twickenham was an England side ready to attack, to threaten, and only prepared to kick when one of their own might actually have a chance of winning the ball back.
“England didn’t kick to kick, they kicked to compete and they were far harder to deal with as a result.
“Billy Vunipola has been given the chance to play his lungs and legs back to fitness in the England first team. While this is probably not fair on other English eights, this was the day that Billy’s fitness landed. He was relentless and effective. Back to his best? Not yet, but he was better than Alldritt and that’s a decent compliment.
“It’s easy to call Anthony Watson ‘gifted’, a natural talent’ or ‘a genetic freak’, but all of these descriptions miss his greatest weapon of all: effort.
“Watson just works so hard, so often. He fights for every single inch of the pitch. He’s a winger who has it all and could well double his 50 cap tally.
“England were under huge pressure, and they delivered. You had Itoje steaming off the line and clattering into Frenchmen behind the gain line, Curry charging down the world’s best player, Sinckler ripping into the blue defensive line like an offended ox, and Slade hitting Vakatawa so hard you worried for his ribcage.
“Most teams who come up against France and their talismanic scrum half, Antoine, ask what’s Dupont? On Saturday, England found the answer.”