Six Nations: Penaud recalled to France squad for Grand Slam clash

By Sports Desk March 17, 2022

France winger Damian Penaud has returned to Fabien Galthie's squad ahead of Saturday's Six Nations clash with England.

The Clermont star was ruled out of the week-four match with Wales after testing positive for COVID-19, but has now completed his isolation period and is back in the fold as France go in search of a Grand Slam.

Centre Yoram Moefana drops out of the 23-man selection as Les Bleus favour a six-two split between forwards and backs on the bench for the fixture at Stade de France.

Romain Taofifenua also returns among the replacements following his own positive coronavirus test earlier this month.

The hosts will complete a first Grand Slam since 2010 if they defeat Eddie Jones' visitors, and could still win the championship for the first time in a dozen years even in defeat.

Galthie will know what his side must do by the time they take to the field, with lone title rivals Ireland set to play before them against Scotland in Dublin.

France: Melvyn Jaminet, Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Jonathan Danty, Gabin Villiere, Romain Ntamack, Antoine Dupont, Gregory Alldritt, Anthony Jelonch, Francois Cros, Paul Willemse, Cameron Woki, Uini Atonio, Julien Marchand, Cyril Baille

Replacements: Peato Mauvaka, Jean-Baptiiste Gros, Mohamed Haouas, Romain Taofifenua, Thibaud Flament, Dylan Cretin, Maxime Lucu, Thomas Ramos

Related items

  • 'I've never experienced anything like it' – Leach praises Stokes and McCullum for restoring belief 'I've never experienced anything like it' – Leach praises Stokes and McCullum for restoring belief

    Jack Leach has praised captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum for their leadership and says he has "never experience anything" like playing in this England Test side. 

    The Somerset spinner took 5-66 on day four of England's fourth Test against New Zealand to claim his first 10-wicket haul in the format.

    Leach is the first England spinner to take 10 wickets in a Test since Moeen Ali in 2017.

    Not since Derek Underwood against Pakistan at Lord's in 1974 had an England spinner claimed two five-fors in a home Test.

    Stokes and McCullum have put their faith in Leach and been rewarded; he is thriving under the new leadership, with England on course for a clean sweep in their three-match series against the Black Caps.

    "[Under Stokes] it's really attacking, and I am really enjoying bowling attackingly [sic]," Leach told Sky Sports.

    "Stokesy's confidence in his decisions but also in us as players – I have never experienced anything like it.

    "It is very special to be a part of, and that is credit to Stokesy and Baz [McCullum] for setting that up.

    "You realise teams I have played in, the way I have thought, a lot of decisions are made around negativity.

    "A lot of four or five-day games you give up on the win quite early, but now it feels like you are always pushing for that win, so there is never really too bad a situation.

    "My biggest thing is having belief in myself, and that is what Ben and Baz have helped me with."

    Leach's latest impressive showing helped England to bowl out their opponents for 326 in their second innings, leaving the hosts requiring 296 runs for victory in Yorkshire.

    Continuing their attacking approach under Stokes and McCullum, England will enter the final day on 183-2 thanks to strong work by Ollie Pope (81 not out) and Joe Root (55 no).

    Zak Crawley (25) and Alex Lees (nine) fell early on in the chase, but Pope and Root's unbeaten 132-run stand means England now require just 113 runs with eight wickets in hand.

    Should England complete the job on Monday, they will become the first team in Test history to successfully chase a target of at least 250 three times in a single series.

    But Tom Blundell (88 no), who became the highest-scoring visiting wicketkeeper in a Test series in England, vowed that New Zealand will give their all to avoid a whitewash.

    "This team has been known to fight, and we've got to come out there and do that tomorrow," he said. "You put a couple of wickets on there and you just never know.

    "Obviously you've got two guys out there in good form, but if we get one of those, who knows?

    "The wicket is deteriorating. A little bit of variable bounce, obviously with the spin as well. It's quite hard to drive with that older ball. 

    "It looks like it's going to deteriorate even more, and hopefully we can utilise that tomorrow."

  • Root and Pope help England close on series sweep Root and Pope help England close on series sweep

    England require 113 runs with eight wickets in hand on the final day of the Headingley Test against New Zealand as they bid to complete a series sweep.

    Another entertaining match between the sides continued on Sunday, as the tourists – resuming on 168-5 in their second innings – were bowled out for 326, courtesy of Jack Leach's first 10-wicket Test haul.

    That set England a target of 296 – a significant score but not even the largest Ben Stokes' newly confident side have chased down in this series.

    And they will resume in a commanding position on day five, with Ollie Pope (81 not out) and Joe Root (55 no) firmly set and within sight of victory on 183-2.

    The latest century stand between Daryl Mitchell and Tom Blundell – their fourth of the series – had earlier appeared to swing momentum back in New Zealand's favour following the late flurry of wickets on Saturday.

    But that three-hour, 252-ball stand was ended with the Black Caps on 274-5. Four balls after Blundell (88 no) was saved by DRS, Matthew Potts (3-66) rapped Mitchell on the knee roll to see him depart lbw for 56.

    Leach (5-66) took over from there, soon accounting for Michael Bracewell and then both Tim Southee and Neil Wagner in the same over.

    When his second five-for of the match was completed bowling to Trent Boult, England – who replaced Ben Foakes with COVID substitute Sam Billings – had a realistic shot at victory.

    Those hopes were dented when Zak Crawley's cover drive was cut off by Kane Williamson, who brilliantly picked out Boult to remove the stumps with Alex Lees well short.

    Crawley (25) was perhaps at fault for that run-out and was caught by Williamson soon after, but Pope and Root steadied the ship, each passing 50 with an array of superb shots late in the day.

    Root leading latest chase

    If England complete the job on Monday, they will become the first team in Test history to successfully chase a target of at least 250 three times in a single series.

    The hosts have made a habit of digging deep and entertaining in equal measure in this series, best epitomised by Root's knock, in which he survived hopeful-at-best Williamson reviews from consecutive balls and then got to work – the highlight a remarkable reverse-scoop for six.

    Brilliant Blundell

    Blundell became the highest-scoring visiting wicketkeeper in a Test series in England, this time doing the heavy lifting opposite regular partner Mitchell.

    The pair have scored over half of the tourists' runs across the three matches.

  • India captain Rohit Sharma tests positive for COVID-19 India captain Rohit Sharma tests positive for COVID-19

    Rohit Sharma has tested positive for COVID-19, less than a week before India's rescheduled Test match against England.

    The India captain had been taking part in his team's warm-up game against Leicestershire, scoring 25 in the first innings but not batting in the second.

    However, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) confirmed on Saturday that Rohit had tested positive for COVID-19 and is in isolation.

    "Team India captain Mr Rohit Sharma has tested positive for COVID-19 following a Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) conducted on Saturday," a statement read. 

    "He is currently in isolation at the team hotel and is under the care of the BCCI Medical Team."

    Rohit has averaged 30.00 from three Test innings in 2022, having averaged 47.68 from 21 innings last year.

    The Test match with England, which gets underway at Edgbaston on Friday, is the rescheduled fifth Test from September 2021.

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.