England secure remarkable RBS 6 Nations victory

France 22 England 24

England secured a remarkable RBS 6 Nations victory over France in Paris that could have profound implications on the future direction of the national team.

Tries from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Foden put England 14-3 ahead and when Tom Croft scored late on they led 24-15 with just five minutes remaining.

Wesley Fofana's converted try in the corner brought France storming back into the game but Francois Trinh-Duc's late drop-goal attempt fell short.

England, mathematically at least, will head into the final weekend with a shot at the title and Stuart Lancaster's bid to become the next full-time coach is building momentum.

Never before have England won all three away fixtures in the same championship season and today's remarkable triumph lifts Lancaster's men up to fourth in the world.

If they can stay there for the rest of the year - admittedly a tough ask given the fixtures that lie ahead - England will be a top seed at their home World Cup in 2015.

The expectation is that the Rugby Football Union want a coach with top-level international experience to lead England into the tournament but Jake White's withdrawal appears to leave them with a choice between Lancaster and Nick Mallett.

Lancaster said in the week that he has enough vision and self-belief to bridge the experience gap and become Martin Johnson's permanent successor.

Nothing will have hammered his message home more profoundly to RFU chief executive Ian Ritchie than this away win in Paris.

Wales' superior points difference means they have a strong grip on the championship crown but if France were to wreck their Grand Slam party next weekend then England, mathematically at least, will be going for the title against Ireland.

Gloucester wing Charlie Sharples was awarded his first Test start after David Strettle was ruled out on the eve of the match with a chest injury, while France coach Philippe Saint-Andre gave fly-half Lionel Beauxis and scrum-half Julien Dupuy their first Test starts since 2009.

Beauxis sliced a drop-goal attempt wide after some strong approach play from his forwards and Dupuy missed a penalty before flanker Julien Bonnaire brushed aside tackles from Dan Cole and Sharples before being dragged down just short.

Despite those French opportunities, England were the better side for the opening half-hour and scored two scintillating tries to take control of the match.

Chris Ashton produced a shuddering tackle on hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and Owen Farrell scooped up the loose ball and Lee Dickson sent Tuilagi thundering away to beat Aurelien Rougerie and score in the corner.

After Farrell converted, Beauxis landed a long-range penalty to get France on the board but England hit them again with a second try.

Number eight Ben Morgan beat two defenders on a rampaging run before fending off Imanol Harinordoquy and slipping a deft offload to Ben Foden, who dragged Vincent Clerc with him over the line.

Farrell's conversion was successful but the Saracens fly-half then hit the post from bang in front, failing to reward a strong effort from an England pack.

Beauxis appeared to have wasted an attacking opportunity when he lumped another high ball towards Foden, who claimed the mark just before being taken out by Rougerie.

Croft and Ashton took exception to the tackle, prompting a shoving match with Rougerie which saw France awarded a penalty, which Dupuy kicked.

It was careless from England, who then conceded two more before the interval as their lead was cut to 14-9.

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

France began to ring the changes with hooker William Servat and prop Vincent Debaty sent on as well as Morgan Parra at scrum half.

England conceded another penalty for pulling down a maul, which Beauxis missed, before Sharples was sent to the sin-bin for a deliberate knock-on.

Clement Poitrenaud sent Fofana crashing into the England 22 where he was half-stopped by Foden's tackle before Cole joined in and forced the French centre to knock on.

Although England saw out the sin-bin without further damage, France continued to chip away at their lead with two more penalties from Beauxis.

Suddenly the lead was down to two points. England had to respond and they did through Croft, who cut between Rougerie and Harinordoquy before rounding Poitrenaud to score.

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

With five minutes left the match was again in the balance but England clung on as Trinh-Duc's drop goal attempt lacked the legs to reach its target.

PA

News
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
Travel
travel
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
Two giraffes pictured on Garsfontein Road, Centurion, South Africa.
i100
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices