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France vs England: Three key battles to watch out for in Le Crunch

Le Crunch is always a spectacle of rugby, and this year’s iteration will be no different, as both sides eye up a potential shock Six Nations title.

Le Crunch is always a spectacle of rugby, and this year’s iteration will be no different, as both sides eye up a potential shock Six Nations title.

Both sides were victorious last time out, which kept their slim title hopes alive, but if they are to pull off one of the biggest surprises in modern rugby they will need a big win in Lyon-but bragging rights are also on the line in this historic rivalry.

Last year, France ran riot at Twickenham. Les Bleus romped to a convincing 53-10 win at the home of English rugby, but Steve Borthwick’s men will be keen for revenge in the South of France.

But which players will swing the game for their team? Here are three head-to-heads to watch for this weekend:

Three head-to-heads to watch for in Le Crunch

Nolann Le Garrec vs Alex Mitchell

The battle at 9 will be crucial this weekend.

Le Garrec-much like Dupont-brings so much pace to his side, and loves quick ball. Last weekend against Wales, France were frighteningly quick in attack, with Le Garrec at the heart of this frantic display. He also adopted a sensible, and effective, kicking game which helped steer his team to victory.

His opposite number Mitchell is in a similar vain too. The Saints scrum-half is another who likes to bring the tempo to his team’s attack, in particular in their heroic 23-22 win over Ireland. This Six Nations, Mitchell has truly developed into a test level scrum-half, but he will need to be at his best to get the better of the man opposite him.

Gregory Alldritt vs Ben Earl

There are some truly fascinating battles in the pack, but this head-to-head wets the appetite more than most.

Alldritt might not have had the Championship he was hoping for, but last weekend showed why is still a key man in this French team. The powerful number eight is so important in getting France over the gain line, and as France’s main ball-carrier he will again be needed to burst through the English defence.

His opposite number Earl has been in spectacular form this Six Nations, and has been one of England’s best players. He is the perfect example of the new number eight, and also adds plenty of explosive speed and power to this England pack. Like Alldritt, he is England’s main ball-carrier, which sets up a beautifully balanced head-to-head.

Emmanuel Meafou vs George Martin

The battle of the enforcers!

Meafou announced himself onto the test stage last weekend in France’s win over Wales, but he took to it like a duck to water. He brought his typical abrasive carrying in the tight and was physical on both sides of the ball. He will need to do this again if he wants to get one over his opposite number Martin.

Martin might still be the fledglings of his international career, but his showing against Ireland proved he can be a key man for England for years to come. He has become known for his big hits in defence, and he will again need to front up if England want to neutralise France’s power game.