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HIGHLIGHTS – Three-try England sparkle in Paris victory

11 March 2012

  • England record famous Paris victory with tries from Tuilagi, Foden and Croft
  • Become first England team to win all three away matches in RBS 6 Nations

France 22 England 24

England defeated France in an RBS 6 Nations thriller at the Stade de France, scoring three tries and making history with their third away win in the 2012 Championship.

Sparkling first-half tries from centre Manu Tuilagi and full back Ben Foden had put England 14-3 ahead but indiscipline resulting in penalties kept France in the game.

Flanker Tom Croft's dashing score nine minutes from time looked to have settled it, before Wesley Fofana's try four minutes later set up a frantic finish.

But England survived a late French charge – culminating in replacement Francois Trinh-Duc’s wayward match-winning drop-goal attempt – to claim a first win over France in Paris since 2008.

It is also the first time England have won all three away fixtures in the championship, while this win lifts Lancaster's side up to fourth in the world rankings.

Despite a couple of early flashes from the French, England were the better side for the opening half-hour and scored two fine tries to take control of the match.

Wing Chris Ashton produced a shuddering tackle on hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and Owen Farrell scooped up the loose ball, before Lee Dickson sent Tuilagi thundering away to arc around the defence, beat Aurelien Rougerie’s despairing dive and score in the corner.

After Farrell converted from the touchline, Lionel Beauxis landed a long-range penalty to get France on the board but England roared straight back with a second try.

No.8 Ben Morgan beat two defenders on a rampaging run before fending off opposite number Imanol Harinordoquy and slipping a deft offload to Ben Foden, who dragged Vincent Clerc with him over the line for his sixth international try.

But after Farrell converted, he missed a straightforward penalty chance and a foolish push from Ashton right in front of his own posts gifted France a three-pointer for Julien Dupuy as France rotated their kickers.

England and Saracens pair Brad Barritt and Owen Farrell celebrate famous win in Paris

Photo: Getty Images

England were beginning to lose their discipline particularly at the breakdown and conceded two more before the interval to go in just 14-9 ahead.

Fly half Farrell extended England's advantage after Fofana was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, defying the ill-mannered jeers to land a nerveless kick from 40 metres out.

Almost immediately, England conceded another penalty for pulling down a maul on their own 10 metre line, which Beauxis missed, before Charlie Sharples was, somewhat harshly given Fofana’s earlier indiscretion, sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on.

France looked set to score when Clement Poitrenaud sent Fofana crashing into the England 22, but he was half-stopped by Foden's tackle before prop Dan Cole arrived and forced the French centre to knock on.

England and Leicester Tigers flanker Tom Croft scores for England in Paris

Photo: Getty Images

Crucially, England saw out the sin-bin without conceding, but France quickly cut the deficit to just two points with two more penalties from Stade Francais’ Beauxis.

England had to respond and they did through a superbly timed line from Croft.  The Leicester man showed impressive power, pace and even a sidestep to cut between Rougerie and Harinordoquy before rounding Poitrenaud to score a brilliant individual try.

But there was still time for late drama. From a strong five-metre scrum, the excellent Fofana attacked the blindside and beat Sharples to score in the right corner.

Parra nailed the difficult conversion and although France threatened – Trinh-Duc's late drop-goal attempt fell short – England had just enough to hold on.

England vs France teams

France: 15-Clement Poitrenaud, 14-Vincent Clerc, 13-Aurelien Rougerie, 12-Wesley Fofana, 11-Julien Malzieu, 10-Lionel Beauxis, 9-Julien Dupuy; 1-Jean-Baptiste Poux, 2-Dimitri Szarzewski, 3-Nicolas Mas, 4-Pascal Pape, 5-Yoann Maestri, 6-Thierry Dusautoir (captain), 7-Julien Bonnaire, 8-Imanol Harinordoquy.

Replacements: 16-William Servat (for Szarzewski, 50) 17-Vincent Debaty (for Poux, 65, Poux for Mas, 75), 18-Lionel Nallet (for Maestri, 55), 19-Louis Picamoles (for Bonnaire, 69), 20-Morgan Parra (for Dupuy, 50), 21-Francois Trinh-Duc (for Beauxis, 74), 22-Maxime Mermoz (for Clerc, 37).

England: 15-Ben Foden, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Manu Tuilagi, 12-Brad Barritt, 11-Charlie Sharples, 10-Owen Farrell, 9-Lee Dickson; 1-Alex Corbisiero, 2-Dylan Hartley, 3-Dan Cole, 4-Mouritz Botha, 5-Geoff Parling, 6-Tom Croft, 7-Chris Robshaw, 8-Ben Morgan.

Replacements: 16-Rob Webber (for Dowson, 74), 17-Matt Stevens (for Cole, 69), 18-Tom Palmer (for Botha, 56), 19-Phil Dowson (for Morgan, 63), 20-Ben Youngs, 21-Charlie Hodgson, 22-Mike Brown.