France 24 England 17
France produced an excellent, if not at times an erratic performance to clinch a famous win over England at the Stade de France in Paris.
France produced a superb start when Racing 92 winger Teddy Thomas broke through the English defence where he was hauled down on England’s 10m line. The home side went through the phases and brought play close to the English line where Romain Ntamack played a reverse pass to Vincent Rattez who scored the opening try of the game.
Ntamack extended France’s lead to 10-0 with a 16th-minute penalty which just added salt to the wound for England after Manu Tuilagi departed the action early on with an injury.
It got worse for Eddie Jones’ side when captain Charles Ollivon scored France’s second. A box-kick was contested between Courtney Lawes and Ollivon with the ball falling to Rattez. The winger broke down the field where he offloaded to the supporting Ollivon to run in for an easy try.
England complained that the ball went forward off Ollivon when he competed for it in the air but the TMO adjudicated that the ball came off Lawes and as a result, the try stood.
By the beginning of the second half, England had seven visits to the French 22 but came away with no points. That increased to eight by the 50th minute when sustained England pressure looked destined to lead to a try only for Maro Itoje to knock the ball forward a metre out from the French line.
The game began to take on a feisty edge. Upon Ellis Genge’s introduction, the Leicester Tigers man followed through on a tackle after Ntamack made a clearing kick much to the anger of the boisterous home crowd.
Moments later, France went 24-0 in front when the superb Dupont carried back against the grain and up the poorly defended blindside of the pitch. He had captain Ollivon on his shoulder who received the pass at the telling moment to score his second try of the match.
An on-pitch melee ensued after Olivon’s try but credit to England, they responded well as Jonny May got his side on the scoreboard with a brilliant individual effort. He chipped the ball past the French defence, kicked ahead and grounded the ball before Thomas could touch down. Farrell’s conversion brought it back to a 17-point margin but England still had a mountain to climb with 20 minutes remaining.
Five minutes later and with England’s scrum beginning to dominate, May produced another moment of magic as he sprinted down the far touchline before cutting in off his right foot to glide past Ntamack and the despairing tackle of Thomas to touch down under the posts.
With 15 minutes remaining England couldn’t find that third try but with the clock in the red they took the three points on offer so to secure the losing bonus point. A result you imagine they would have taken at halftime.