Tim Stimpson, a full-back whose international credentials Jack Rowell keeps mentioning, did the England manager's heart good last night when he scored 22 of the A-team's points including the decisive try in a dismally fractious victory at the Jean Bouin Stadium.
Anglo-French encounters, not least across the road at Parc des Princes, have had a tendency to hot blood in recent times and the opening exchanges of the A match fell into the familiar pattern, with two Englishmen receiving yellow cards.
Christophe Lamaison had planted a penalty from inside the French half when Garath Archer trampled over Franck Tournaire and was duly warned, but found Bertie Smith awarding the penalty to England.
Stimson levelled the scores from 45 yards, but the relief was temporary. France were swiftly back in front with two more Lamaison penalties and then Phil Greening earned a yellow card for more stamping.
Jean-Claude Skrela, France's national coach, wants the development of a national style applicable at all levels but the ragged nature of last night's exchanges made it impossible to ascertain precisely what it might be.
Perhaps this was not surprising as the flow of penalties continued. Stimson eventually pulled one back for England, but shortly before half-time Lamaison kicked another and finally Archer, in trouble again, was shown the yellow card.
As for the English pattern, this is the subject of on-going debates and for most of the time the best they could hope for was to pick up penalties - which, with Smith in this mood, they could not help doing. This is the referee who once gave 53 during an Australian tour match in Wales.
After Lamaison's fifth for France, Stimpson kicked another three for England, with the yellow-card imbalance redressed somewhat when Tournaire got one for fighting. England's try was superb, Martin Corry's charging run off a line-out sowing defensive confusion that was exploited by Gomarsall, King, Mensah and Greenwood en route to the match-winning Stimpson. Alex King wrapped things up with a drop goal.
FRANCE A: O Toulouze (Grenoble); D Venditti, S Glas (Bourgoin), C Lamaison (Bayonne), L Arbo (Perpignan); Y Delaigue (Toulon), F Galthie (Colomiers, capt); J-J Crenca (Agen), H Guieraud (Nimes), F Tournaire (Narbonne), Y Le Meur (Racing Club), J-P Versailles (Montferrand), L Mallier (Grenoble), C Juillet (Montferrand), P Farner (Begles). Replacement: F Belot (Toulouse) for Lemeur
ENGLAND A: T Stimpson (West Hartlepool); D Hopley (Wasps), W Greenwood, P Mensah (Harlequins), A Adebayo (Bath); A King (Bristol University), A Gomarsall (Wasps); R Hardwick (Coventry), P Greening (Gloucester), D Garforth (Leicester), G Archer (Bristol), D Sims (Gloucester), M Corry (Bristol), A Diprose (Saracens, capt), R Jenkins (Harlequins).
Referee: B Smith (Ireland).Reuse content