England overcomes France narrowly at Twickenham
Sam Burgess was sin-binned on his debut as England kicked off their World Cup preparations positively with a 19-14 win against France at Twickenham on Saturday.
England touched down three tries to win the game, with the man of the match Anthony Watson scoring two in the first-half before Jonny May touched down what proved to be the winning score after the break.
Burgess himself announced himself to international rugby union in a major way with a series of bone-crunching tackles and a sin-binning. Callum Clark was another who spoiled his debut with a yellow card. Already fighting to shake off a reputation for ill-discipline.
There was plenty for Stuart Lancaster’s list of positives, with Exeter Chiefs youngster Henry Slade and Saracen veteran Alex Goode both putting on impressive displays in front of the Twickenham faithful.
France took the lead initially through a Morgan Parra penalty but after 11 minutes Watson opened the scoring following an excellent pass from Slade. And fly-half Owen Farrell made no mistake with the conversion, 3-7.
Then with barely 17 minutes on the clock May ghosted around the French defence before offloading to Watson for his second try to make it 12-3, but this time Farrell missed the chance to add the extras.
France narrowed the gap through the boot of Parra, who scored two further penalties to reduce England’s lead to three points with eight minutes left before half-time.
Burgess then saw yellow as he held the scrum-half back right in front of the referee, preventing France from taking the quick penalty. The centre’s time off the field was split by half-time, where England held a narrow 12-9 lead.
However, the man advantage did not deter England as seven minutes after half-time Goode’s well-weighted chip kick into the French corner was collected by May. The wing then put his Six Nations nightmare behind him as he raced in to score.
And Farrell converted to stretch the hosts lead to ten points, but soon after England were a man down yet again when Clark became the second debutant to find himself in the sin bin for dangerous play.
Les Bleus then enjoyed a period of dominance and got their reward when flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo crashed over to score, but replacement scrum-half Rory Kockott could not add the extras.
England then defended bravely to keep France away from their try line as they held out to finish 19-14 winners.
Man of the match- Anthony Watson
The wing wizard dazzled for England on Saturday night scoring two superb tries. In what was an experimental side from Stuart Lancaster you would presume, although there were many good performers, Watson has put himself in a strong position to be part of his final 31-man World Cup squad.