Taulupe Faletau v Gregory Alldritt – back-row battle key to Wales-France clash

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Wales tackle unbeaten Guinness Six Nations leaders France in Cardiff on Friday.

While Wales’ hopes of a successful title defence are effectively over following defeats against Ireland and England, Les Bleus are two victories away from winning the championship and securing a first Grand Slam since 2010.

Here, the PA news agency assesses one of the key individual battles, with rival number eights Taulupe Faletau and Gregory Alldritt being accomplished, influential performers.

A comparison between Taulupe Faletau and Gregory Alldritt
(PA graphic)

Taulupe Faletau
Number eight Taulupe Faletau continues to excel for Wales (David Davies/PA)

Faletau returned to Test rugby for Wales in their defeat to England after seven months out injured, and it was as if he had never been away. He made 19 tackles and 13 carries, leaving his mark on the contest in trademark fashion. Some doubted whether he could hit his straps following just two comeback appearances for Bath in the Gallagher Premiership, but he was among Wales’ most dominant performers at Twickenham. Faletau’s consistency level is the envy of many, and a continued ability to deliver one top-drawer display after another marks him out as a true Welsh rugby great.

Gregory Alldritt – La Rochelle and France

Gregory Alldritt
France number eight Gregory Alldritt is a key performer for Les Bleus (Adam Davy/PA)

Alldritt only made his Test debut three years ago, but he has had a major impact as part of a France team that means business – not only in this season’s Six Nations, but also the World Cup on home soil next year. A fearless defender, he also regularly makes his presence felt in open play. He has carried the ball 41 times across France’s first three Six Nations games – more than any other player in the tournament – and he is also the leading forward for offloads on five, putting him level with team-mate Damian Penaud and England wing Max Malins. A natural leader, Alldritt offers an immense presence in a juggernaut French pack.

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