- England defeat France 17-9 at Twickenham in RBS 6 Nations
- Full back Ben Foden scores the game’s only try in 42nd minute
England 17 France 9
England remain unbeaten in the 2011 RBS 6 Nations after claiming a 17-9 victory over France at Twickenham.
Ben Foden scored the only try of the match as the hosts capitalised on a spell of intense pressure early in the second half to take a decisive lead.
The scores were tied at 9-9 at half-time after both sides had threatened, but it was ultimately left to kickers Toby Flood and Dimitri Yachvili to rack up the points.
But England, who before the break had looked the less comfortable of the two sides with ball in hand, came racing out of the gates after the interval.
And following Foden’s score, fly half Jonny Wilkinson came off the bench to add to Flood's three first-half penalties and become the all-time leading points-scorer in international rugby once again.
England made a bright start and took the lead in the fifth minute when France dropped a scrum and Flood slotted over the penalty from out on the left.
Yachvili kept France in the game
Photo: Getty Images
The visitors provided an instant response from the restart as an England infringement at the breakdown left scrum half Yachvili with a simple kick in front of the posts.
The home side were back ahead in the 12th minute, though, as Yannick Jauzion was ruled to be offside when intercepting a pass and Leicester Tigers fly half Flood made no mistake with the penalty.
England were enjoying a consistent spell of pressure and Flood made it 9-3 after France were once again offside, but English hands in the ruck immediately after the restart allowed Yachvili to reduce the deficit by three.
And when England were then penalised for collapsing a scrum, Yachvili stepped up to level the scores with a perfectly-struck attempt from just inside the opposing half.
France were by now beginning to make progress as England prop Andrew Sheridan was replaced by Alex Corbisiero after suffering an injury, but the visitors failed to convert the pressure into points.
With the travelling French support making their voices heard, the visitors twice threatened with kicks in behind, but there was to be no further points before half-time as Yachvili missed a tough attempt on the stroke of the interval.
Foden barges over for solitary try
Photo: Getty Images
At the start of the second half, a charge-down from lock Tom Palmer caused confusion in the France defence and England capitalised to score the game's only try.
The ball was spun out to wing Mark Cueto, who juggled it into the hands of Foden, with the full-back charging over to score in the corner. Flood missed the tough conversion.
Moments later, flying wing Chris Ashton thought he had extended the lead as he raced away to swan-dive over the line, but Flood's pass to scrum half Ben Youngs in the build-up was ruled forward.
The hosts were firmly in the ascendancy and shortly after they had threatened the try-line again through centre Shontayne Hape, they were awarded another penalty.
Flood limped off the before the kick could be taken, allowing Wilkinson to regain his position at the top of the Test scoring charts with his first kick of the game.
France then missed two great chances to reduce the 17-9 deficit as first Yachvili sent a penalty against the upright, before centre Aurelien Rougerie fumbled the ball as he tried to ground a neat kick through from fly half Francois Trinh-Duc.
Among other changes, hooker Steve Thompson came off the bench in the 66th minute to join Brian Moore as the most-capped hooker in England history but the home side stayed in control.
Ashton broke free again as the match headed into the final 10 minutes, but Yohan Huget cut out his attempted pass to Cueto and prevented the hosts from killing the game off.
However, France never looked like mounting a serious comeback as the contest came to a scrappy end.
England v France teams
England: Foden; Ashton, Tindall, Hape, Cueto; Flood, Youngs; Sheridan, Hartley, Cole, Deacon, Palmer, Wood, Haskell, Easter.
Replacements: Wilkinson for Flood (51), Care for Youngs (63), Corbisiero for Sheridan (23), Thompson for Hartley (67), Fourie for Cole (76), Shaw for Deacon (71).
France: Poitrenaud; Huget, Rougerie, Jauzion, Clerc; Trinh-Duc, Yachvili, Domingo, Servat, Mas, Pierre, Nallet, Dusautoir, Harinordoquy, Chabal.
Replacements: Traille for Poitrenaud (51), Palisson for Jauzion (67), Parra for Yachvili (62), Marconnet for Domingo (60), Guirado for Servat (76), Thion for Pierre (62), Bonnaire for Chabal (51).
Ref: George Clancy (IRFU).