Planet Rugby

England conquer the French

23rd February 2013 18:43

Share:

Mathieu Bastareaud Manu Tuilagi England v France

Brute force: Manu Tuilagi

England sidestepped their latest challenge on their way to a Grand Slam with a punishing 23-13 victory over France at Twickenham.

France were transformed from the sluggish side that were abysmal against Wales a fortnight ago - aggressive at the breakdown and benefiting from moving Wesley Fofana back into the centre after his ill-fated stint on the wing.

England were more clinical in the second-half and gained the lead thanks to a fortuitous try from Tuilagi, who enjoyed an excellent afternoon against his French counterpart Mathieu Bastareaud.

A brutally physical clash worth of its affectionate title, saw frequent crunching tackles whilst the scrum was a contest initially dominated by France, before England gained parity as the match progressed.

It was far from the greatest performance under Stuart Lancaster, but a crucial result that leaves England with Italy and Wales in their path on the way to a first Grand Slam since 2003.

Farrell opened the scoring for England after just two minutes following an infringement from Thierry Dusautoir at the breakdown.

France were unable to exploit a three-man overlap on the outside when Bastareaud knocked on, but with advantage being played Morgan Parra opened his account with a penalty from 39 metres out.

The visitors grabbed the initiative in the scrum to force England into conceding two consecutive penalties, with France benefiting from a smoother surface than the pot-holed Stade de France from a fortnight ago against Wales.

Both sides struggled to convert large periods of possession in attack - conceding penalties when faced by a physical backlash from the opposition at the breakdown.

An attacking line-out created the base for a promising English attack after Manu Tuilagi burst through the midfield, only for Farrell's chip across for Chris Ashton to go too deep. Farrell converted England's penalty advantage however to make the score 6-3 after 27 minutes.

Fofana then broke through several English tackles down the left flank to score the game's opening try, Ashton's tap tackle unable to bring the Clermont centre down as he crossed in the left-hand corner, with Parra converting.

Farrell hit back with a penalty to cut the deficit to one point with five minutes left before half-time, before Parra attempted to respond with a penalty of his own at the end of the half from long-range which fell wide to the left.

France showed no let-up in the scrum at the beginning of the second half, forcing the penalty, but Parra was unable to convert.

A punishing maul from England then handed Farrell the chance to regain the lead, with the Saracen again successful to move England 12-10 ahead.

England then furthered their lead thanks to Tuilagi, the Leicester centre snatching up a loose ball at the back of the French ruck to canter into the corner.

France struck back with a penalty immediately from the restart, substitute Frederic Michalak coming on to convert and leave the score at 17-13. More strict officiating at the breakdown from referee Craig Joubert handed England an opportunity to add more points, Farrell lining up a 48 metre attempt which fell low to the left.

A burst up the left from Picamoles had England scrambling, before Michalak failed to take a low pass having begun the passage of play with a perfect chip over the top of the English defence.

Another brilliant surge from Tuilagi left Bastareaud flat on his back in midfield, setting up a grubber kick for Toby Flood behind the French defence which was well fielded by Vincent Clerc.

England though were in the ascendency at the breakdown, with Michalak penalised to allow Toby Flood the easiest of opportunities to stretch the home side's lead. He made no mistake - sending England into a 20-13 lead with seven minutes remaining.

Another error at the breakdown handed Flood a further three points to give England a solid cushion heading into the closing minutes.

The home side's defence held despite a late French surge, confirming their victory on a bitterly cold night at Twickenham and condemning France to one of their worst starts to a Six Nations ever.

Man of the Match: Despite the presence of Tuilagi, Tom Wood was outstanding for England from the base of the scrum.

Moment of the Match: With a lucky break needed, Manu Tuilagi could scarcely believe his luck as he picked up a loose ball and scored England's first try.

Villain of the Match: Not the greatest of substitute appearances for Frederic Michalak, whose little errors gave up key points in the second half.

The scorers:

For England:
Tries: Tuilagi
Pens: Farrell 4, Flood 2
Yellow Card: Cole

For France:
Tries: Fofana
Cons: Parra
Pens: Parra, Michalak

The teams:

England: 15 Alex Goode, 14 Chris Ashton, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Brad Barritt, 11 Mike Brown, 10 Owen Farrell, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Tom Wood, 7 Chris Robshaw (c), 6 Courtney Lawes, 5 Geoff Parling, 4 Joe Launchbury, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley, 1 Joe Marler.
Replacements: 16 Tom Youngs, 17 David Wilson, 18 Mako Vunipola, 19 Thomas Waldrom, 20 James Haskell, 21 Danny Care, 22 Toby Flood, 23 Billy Twelvetrees.

France: 15 Yoann Huget, 14 Vincent Clerc, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Benjamin Fall, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Thierry Dusautoir, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Nicolas Mas, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Thomas Domingo
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Luc Ducalcon, 19 Jocelino Suta, 20 Antonie Claassen, 21 Maxime Machenaud, 22 Frederic Michalak, 23 Florian Fritz.

Referee: Craig Joubert (South Africa)
Assistant referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Television match official: Jim Yuille (Scotland)

by Ben Coles
@bencoles_

Forthcoming Fixtures
FixtureDetails
All times are local
International Match
Saturday , November 1
Barbarians vs Australia14:30
USA vs New Zealand15:00
More International Match fixtures
LV= Cup
Saturday , November 1
Sale Sharks vs Wasps14:00
Exeter vs Gloucester15:00
Bath vs London Welsh15:00
London Irish vs Leicester15:00
Northampton vs Newcastle16:00
Sunday , November 2
Saracens vs Harlequins13:00
More LV= Cup fixtures
Guinness PRO12
Friday , October 31
Leinster vs EdinburghLeinster vs Edinburgh Preview
Glasgow vs Benetton TrevisoGlasgow vs Benetton Treviso Preview
Ospreys vs ConnachtOspreys vs Connacht Preview
Saturday , November 1
Cardiff Blues vs Munster17:15
Scarlets vs Zebre18:00
Ulster vs Newport Gwent D'gons19:35
More Guinness PRO12 fixtures
Top 14
Saturday , November 1
Lyon vs Toulouse13:45
Racing Metro Paris vs Oyonnax18:30
Stade Francais vs Bordeaux-Begles18:30
La Rochelle vs Montpellier18:30
Brive vs Castres18:30
Bayonne vs Clermont Auvergne20:45
Sunday , November 2
Toulon vs Grenoble13:00
More Top 14 fixtures
Recent Results
FixtureDetails
All times are local
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Castres 16 - 21 LeinsterCastres vs Leinster Report
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale SharksClermont Auvergne vs Sale Sharks Report
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Wasps 16 - 23 HarlequinsWasps vs Harlequins Report
Saturday , October 25
Ulster 13 - 23 ToulonUlster vs Toulon Report
Bath 19 - 21 ToulouseBath vs Toulouse Report
Montpellier 13 - 15 GlasgowMontpellier vs Glasgow Report
Northampton 34 - 6 OspreysNorthampton vs Ospreys Report
Scarlets 15 - 3 LeicesterScarlets vs Leicester Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Rovigo 18 - 33 Cardiff Blues
Bucuresti 9 - 13 Stade Francais
Oyonnax 15 - 25 Gloucester
Exeter 33 - 13 Connacht
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 SaracensMunster vs Saracens Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
Grenoble 15 - 25 London Irish
La Rochelle 25 - 13 Bayonne
Edinburgh 25 - 17 LOU Rugby
Newport Gwent D'gons 26 - 30 Newcastle
Brive 21 - 26 Zebre
Thursday , October 23
London Welsh 20 - 52 Bordeaux-BeglesLondon Welsh vs Bordeaux-Begles Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 19
Ospreys 42 - 7 Benetton TrevisoOspreys vs Benetton Treviso Report
Toulouse 30 - 23 MontpellierToulouse vs Montpellier Report
Leinster 25 - 20 WaspsLeinster vs Wasps Report
Toulon 28 - 18 ScarletsToulon vs Scarlets Report
More European Rugby Champions Cup results
European Rugby Challenge Cup
London Irish 70 - 14 RovigoLondon Irish vs Rovigo Report
More European Rugby Challenge Cup results
Aviva Premiership Table
PosTeamPPts
1Northampton625
2Saracens622
3Exeter620
4Bath620
5Wasps615