England fall to the boot of Bellott

Click to follow
The Independent Online
An onslaught by France A at the start of each half helped the visitors beat their English counterparts 34-25 at Leicester last night in a match of real quality.

England, with four international in their line-up, tried to pile through the opposition's defence early on, but it was France who took the lead after six minutes with Benoit Bellot scoring the first of his 19 points from a penalty.

A flowing French move shortly after helped send winger Sebastien Viars over for a try as England trailed by 13 points, but the home side slowly began to convert pressure into points.

A rolling 20-yard maul set up Alex King, whose long pass found Jim Mallinder, and he cruised over. With King adding another penalty shortly before half- time, the home side looked to be gaining the upper hand.

But following the restart, the French opened up with Bellot adding a penalty and the French quickly capitalised on tired opposition as their forwards pushed through the English pack, allowing Arnaud Costes to take the ball over.

However, Mallinder quickly struck back and the Sale full back powered his way through two French tackles to score.

Bellot then kicked a drop goal from nearly 40 yards to extend the French lead to nine, which was reduced to six with another King penalty.

The final assault came with seven minutes to go with Bellot, marshalling his backs superbly, feeding a miss-pass out to Eric Artiguste who duly ran in the try.

Although captain Will Greenwood again cut the deficit with a try underneath the posts, a final penalty for Bellot put the result beyond doubt.

Scotland produced an incredible comeback in their A international at Myreside but still came out second best, losing 34-33 to their Irish counterparts.

Trailing 20-7 at half-time, Scotland twice took the lead but leading 33-27 with just two minutes of normal time remaining, Ally Donaldson's pass was intercepted by Niall Woods, who raced over for the try.

Michael Lynch's conversion gave Ireland their one-point win. Scotland were made to pay after their weakness in the tackle gave away soft tries by Ciran Clarke and Woods' first.

Their troubles continued in the second half when Graeme Burns' kick was charged down and a lucky bounce allowed the flanker, Eddie Halvey, to score Ireland's third try. Ireland's other try was by Niall Hogan.

For Scotland, their centre Cameron Murray celebrated his first game with two tries and there were two touchdowns for his fellow centre, Ron Eriksson.

Scotland's other try came from John Kerr, with Donaldson converting four of their tries but he missed a long-range penalty.