France star awarded 10/10 as "absolutely phenomenal" Caelan Doris hailed by BBC
'Absurd, yet again'
Ireland and France served up a piping hot Six Nations classic, on Saturday, with both sides pushing the other to the very brink, and back again. Caelan Doris and Damian Penaud have been singled out as the cherries atop this sumptuous dish.
The France winger and the Ireland No.8 were both close to perfect in a breathless first half and were still swinging for the fences in the closing stages of a thriller.
Ireland won 32-19 to remain on course for a title and possible Grand Slam, but The Telegraph recognised the superb efforts of Penaud in a valiant but losing cause. The Clermont winger was awarded 10/10 by writer Charles Richardson, who stated he was "astonishing". "One of the all-time great wing performances," he added. "An irrepressible force on the French flanks who repeatedly made one of the world's best defences look foolish."
Penaud finished with a try, 104 metres gained off 10 carries, four line breaks and 11 defenders beaten. Caelan Doris had some astounding final statistics, too.
The Leinster forward made 18 carries for 88 metres, beat three defenders, had a turnover and a try assist for the Garry Ringrose score that got Ireland the bonus point. Richardson proclaimed:
'A scrap between him and Ardie Savea for the No 8 jersey in a world XV has become a reality. Absurd yet again, his pass for the match-sealing try was as good as they come.'
Caelan Doris hailed on BBC
In our player ratings for the game, both Caelan Doris and Hugo Keenan got 9/10 for their brilliant performances, with four others awarded 8/10. There are two big fixes for Ireland, despite their latest win over a top opponent.
Ireland scored four tries but their performance deserved more and they were held up four times over the tryline and were twice penalised when inside the France 22. Their red-zone efficiency was top-notch against Wales and France have a much tougher defence so this was more understandable.
Sticking tackles is an area of the game Ireland were weak on, for all of France's deadly attacking threats, and Andy Farrell admitted after the game that he was not sure if a single tackle was made on Antoine Dupont, Damian Penaud or Ethan Dumortier, the other French wing. Indeed, that trio evaded 26 tackle attempts from men in green jerseys.
Doris himself missed three tackles and conceded a turnover, hence his mark of 9/10 in our ratings, but his performance will still go down as one of the best from an Irish player against Les Bleus. He is only 24, too, so should be just coming into his peak years.
Over on the BBC, former Ireland winger Denis Hickie and host Sara Orchard were both raving about the lad who grew up in the village of Lacken in Ballina. Hickie said:
"James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Josh van der Flier, those three guys have huge levels of fitness and they just give Ireland that go-forward ball all throughout their games."
Orchard had slightly different stats on the metres made and credited Hugo Keenan with 203 and Doris with 115. "The work-rate of this team under Andy Farrell is absolutely phenomenal," she declared.
"Doris has just something else about him," Hickie agreed. "His performances against New Zealand, last summer, were fantastic. I thought towards of last season, with Leinster, he may have run out of gas, a little bit, and had played too many games. But this year he has come back and has been fantastic in all his games."
Hickie points out that France would have been well drilled on how to shut him down, and that is what made his output on Saturday all the more impressive.
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