France 21-31 England: Eddie Jones’ side clinches a first Grand Slam title in 13 years with victory in Paris
England had already secured the Six Nations title with four wins so far in the 2016 Championships for the Red Rose
Tries from Danny Care and Dan Cole gave Eddie Jones’ men a 17-12 lead at the break
Anthony Watson’s score after restart secured the narrow win for England
Another victory for England, their fifth of an unbeaten campaign, secured a first Six Nations Grand Slam since 2003 as Eddie Jones’ men overcame France in Paris.
In his first season in the charge, the Australian head coach saw his team land the prized clean sweep in a Six Nations championship in which they have been the dominant team.
England didn’t dominate the first half like they did last weekend against Wales, but they still managed to open up a solid 17-12 lead heading into the break thanks to an excellent individual try from Danny Care and a second Test score by prop Dan Cole.
The visitor’s other seven points in the opening 40 came from the reliable boot of Owen Farrell while Maxime Machenaud kept his cool to keep Les Bleus in the contest with four confidently struck penalties.
Jones’ men though could have so easily lost it after the restart with France playing very well in the second half, but eventually, the visitors got the ball moving and scored a crucial try through Anthony Watson with 25 minutes to go before a few more kicks from Farrell was enough to secure the crucial victory.
The only sour note appeared to be England captain Dylan Hartley being stretchered off in the second half but he thankfully returned for the celebrations to lift his much deserved prize.
France capitalised upon some early pressure to open the scoring through Machenaud from the tee after three minutes but off the restart, with their first attack of the game, England levelled the scores immediately through Farrell.
But despite all the hosts early pressure, Care then burst clear from a ruck and crossed under the posts to open the try-scoring after 14 minutes. Farrell then added the simple conversion from in front of the posts to open up a seven-point lead.
The hosts had to respond and they did with another three-pointer from Machenaud to reduce the deficit to just four points.
England though came back at the hosts, scoring their second try through Cole, who rumbled across the line in a clumsy fashion. Farrell converted, and it was 17-6 to the visitors with 20 minutes played.
Machenaud went on to put over his third and fourth penalties of the night to keep the scoreboard ticking for the hosts, reducing the gap to five heading into half-time, 12-17.
The French scrum-half added another three points three minutes after the restart to narrow the gap but ill-discipline from the restart gave Farrell an easy opportunity to recapture Eng;and’s five-point advantage and he made no mistake.
France though responded through Machenaud to once again close the gap to two points, 18-20.
But England roared back and scored a crucial try after 55 minutes when Watson collected a knock through from replacement scrum-half Ben Youngs to scramble over in the corner. Farrell couldn’t add the extras, leaving the difference between the pair at seven points.
The lead though was quickly reduced two minutes later as Machenaud maintained his fabulous kicking performance to once again close the gap, 21-25.
Play was next stopped as Hartley was stretched off with Luke Cowan-Dickie replacing on for the England captain.
Even without their skipper, Farrell was the next one to knock over a penalty, meaning France would need a converted score to deny Jones’ men the Grand Slam, 21-28
The centre then secured the 31-21 win with one last penalty after Xavier Chiocci was sent to the bin with two minutes to go.
MAN OF THE MATCH
England: Owen Farrell
France: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Wesley Fofana, 13 Gaël Fickou, 12 Maxime Mermoz, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 François Trinh-Duc, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Loann Goujon, 7 Bernard le Roux, 6 Damien Chouly, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Alexandre Flanquart, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot
Replacements: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Uini Atonio, 18 Xavier Chiocci, 19 Paul Jedrasiak, 20 Wenceslas Lauret, 21 Sébastien Bézy, 22 Jules Plisson, Maxime Médard
England: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Anthony Watson, 13 Jonathan Joseph, 12 Owen Farrell, 11 Jack Nowell, 10 George Ford, 9 Danny Care, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 James Haskell, 6 Chris Robshaw, 5 George Kruis, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Dan Cole, 2 Dylan Hartley (c), 1 Mako Vunipola
Replacements: 16 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17 Joe Marler, 18 Kieran Brookes, 19 Joe Launchbury, 20 Jack Clifford, 21 Ben Youngs, 22 Manu Tuilagi, 23 Elliot Daly
Date: Saturday, March 19
Venue: Stade de France, Paris
Kick-off: 21:00 local (20:00 GMT)
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: John Lacey (Ireland), Leighton Hodges (Wales)
TMO: Ben Skeen (New Zealand)