Faulty England overpowered in Paris
England’s World Cup plans took a major blow as France dominated what is thought to be Stuart Lancaster’s strongest starting XV with a 25-20 triumph in Paris on Saturday.
In a try-less first half Les Bleus governed, with Frederic Michalak’s boot outscoring George Ford’s by five to two, giving the hosts a 15-6 lead at half-time.
Yoann Huget’s converted try then put France clear before a late surge from England with Danny Cipriani and Jonathan Joseph both touching down added an element of decency to the scoreline.
For 10 minutes England played the kind of rugby that could see them challenge for the World Cup, but for 70 minutes prior to that they were bossed about and played in a manner that would see them fail to get out of their Pool.
After a first half dominated by the fly-halves, Huget opened the scoring after 47 minutes. The wing wizard ran onto an inside pass from Michalak before waltzing his way past four defenders at pace and diving over. Michalak added the extras to give the hosts a 16-popint lead.
Michalak then extended the lead further with another penalty after 65 minutes, 25-6.
England then started their late fightback after 72 minutes through replacement Cipriani, who received a long pass from Ford before with confidence burrowing his way through the French defence to touch down. Ford slotted the two-pointer to reduce the host’s lead to 12-points.
Then with a minute to go Cipriani, this time the creator, offloads to Billy Vunipola, The No.8 then ships it to Mike Brown, who draws in the last defender before passing to Joseph who has the simple job of touching down. Ford then shows his class and lands the two-pointer from close to the touchline to add some respectability to the scoreline.
France missed 27 (123) tackles compared to England, who failed with =just 13 (115).
England lost four of their 13 own line-outs while Les Bleus won all 11 of theirs.
The visitors conceded 12 penalties, six of which were kicked over for three points by the hosts.
Man of the match- Yoann Huget
The speedy wing was a constant thorn in the side of the England defence and scored the game’s finest try when he left Mike Brown on his backside to touch down. He also defended very well for on what was overall a terrific night for the French. An honourable mention to the French pack as well as they performed solidly throughout to give the hosts a morale-boosting result after so long in the doldrums.
Loser of the match- Tom Youngs
England’s lineout throughout was, in general, poor and his throwing was 50-50 at best. He was off after 48 minutes and will have to dust off the rustiness as he is anticipated to be England’s starting No.2 at the World Cup next month. There is also an honourable mention to Billy Vunipola, who was caught offside a few too many times as well as making a stupid high tackle. In all it meant it wasn’t a great evening for him, leaving the No.8 as a big question.
- Referee Jaco Peyper (South Africa).
- Attendance 80,000
France: Spedding; Huget, Bastareaud, Fofana, Nakaitaci; Michalak, Tillous-Borde; Ben Arous, Guirado, Slimani, Pape, Maestri, Chouly, Le Roux, Picamoles.
Replacements: Fickou for Bastareaud (67), Tales for Michalak (69), Kockott for Tillous-Borde (69), Debaty for Ben Arous (56), Kayser for Guirado (56), Atonio for Slimani (63), Flanquart for Pape (67), Nyanga for Picamoles (56).
England: Brown; Nowell, Joseph, Burrell, May; Ford, B Youngs; Marler, T Youngs, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Haskell, Robshaw, B Vunipola.
Replacements: Twelvetrees for Burrell (63), Cipriani for May (63), Care for B Youngs (48), M Vunipola for Marler (65), George for T Youngs (48), Wilson for Cole (65), Attwood for Launchbury (53), Easter for Haskell (53).