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England Students fall to narrow French defeat

24 February 2013

  • England made to pay for slow start
  • French ball speed makes the difference
England Students scrum down against France Universities

Photo: Tania Richards

England Students suffered a 22-18 defeat to France Universities at the Richmond Athletic ground on Friday evening, with a slow start and errors at crucial times costing them.

France caught England cold from the off and were a try up after five minutes when scrum half and captain Romain Veniat darted over the line.

England struck back with a penalty from Loughborough fly half Sam Katz, but the hosts found themselves 12-3 down after French No. 8 Flavian Nouhailguet of Grenoble smashed his way through three tacklers to get over the line.

Two further penalties from Katz brought England back to within three at 12-9, before France and Clermont Auvergne centre Alexandre Mourot sliced through the middle of the English defence to go in under the posts.

Another three points from Katz and a yellow card for French tight head Victor Delmas gave England the opportunity to get level things but France held out until the break.

An England Students player runs with the ball against France Universities

Photo: Tania Richards

After 60 minutes Loughborough No. 8 Joe Burton broke through the middle of the French defence off the back of a line-out, taking play up to the French 22. However, as was a common theme throughout the game, slow ball halted all momentum and poor passing put England onto the back foot.

With the clock running down, England found themselves within a point following two penalty efforts from Katz to bring his tally to six and England’s total to 18.

However, the dying minutes of the game were played out in the England 22, and three points from France and Lyon wing Eric Tomamichel gave the away side the four point cushion that England couldn't overturn.

Captain Josh Beaumont said: “The French are always physical and they were no different today. They were very strong at the set piece and competed well at the breakdown. I thought we were the better side for large parts of the match, but in the end mistakes cost us."

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