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France make five changes but keep faith in Ntamack and Jalibert

By AAP
(Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

France coach Fabien Galthie has kept faith in Romain Ntamack and Matthieu Jalibert for Sunday’s Autumn Nations Series match against Georgia in Bordeaux after a disappointing showing against Argentina last weekend.

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Jalibert will again start at fly-half alongside scrum-half Antoine Dupont with Ntamack being fielded at centre as France look to boost their creativity ahead of a much-awaited clash against the All Blacks on November 20.

Ntamack, who was Galthie’s preferred fly-half since he took over after the 2019 World Cup, failed to find his stride in Les Bleus’s 29-20 win against Argentina last Saturday and was replaced after 50 minutes.

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“We are trying to build an organisation. Those 50 minutes together left a feeling of incompleteness but we are starting again with another week of work under our belt,” said Galthie, who made five changes to the team that started against Argentina. “We are looking to be more competitive with this combination.”

Four of the changes were among the forwards, with Uini Atonio starting at prop after missing the opening game of the autumn series with an injury. Gregory Alldritt is back at No8 instead of Anthony Jelonch, who slides to blindside while Sekou Macalou starts at openside with Cameron Woki moving a rank up to the second row, meaning Francois Cros will be on the bench.

Thibaud Flament, who produced an impressive performance against Argentina, will be on the bench with Paul Willemse after the pair of locks started last Saturday. In the backline, Matthis Lebert will be handed his first cap as he starts on the left wing.

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FRANCE (vs Georgia, Sunday)
15. Melvyn Jaminet; 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gael Fickou, 12. Romain Ntamack, 11. Matthis Lebert; 10. Matthieu Jalibert, 9. Antoine Dupont (capt); 8. Gregory Alldritt, 7. Sekou Makalou, 6. Anthony Jelonch, 5. Romain Taofifenua, 4. Cameron Woki, 3. Uini Antonio, 2. Julien Marchand, 1. Cyril Baille. Reps: 16. Peato Mauvaka, 17. Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18. Demba Bamba, 19. Thibaud Flament, 20. Paul Willemse, 21. Francois Cros, 22. Maxime Lucu, 23. Jonathan Danty.

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