By Ros Satar
England 23-13 France
England held off an initially re-energised French side to go 3-for-3 in this year’s 6 Nations tournament.
France made seven changes to their team, wanting to bring in experience and it showed, as they played with speed and determination.
The early balance of play saw France rewarded for their efforts when Wesley Fofana eluded high and low tackles and sprinted over for the first try of the match.
England had relied on the boot of Owen Farrell to stay ahead on penalties, getting all of England’s 9 points in the first half.
England had a chance when Manu Tuilagi bulldozed his way through the French defence but was brought down, and a recycled kick from Farrell was just a little too long for Chris Ashton to get on to.
At the restart. England looked to start the brighter of the two teams.
Tuilagi took advantage of a (potentially controversial) richochet to get a try and give England a boost in the second half.
England gave away a soft penalty, and France’s Frederic Michelak (brought in for Francois Trinh-Duc) brought France 3 points closer.
Farrell pulled up injured after missing a penalty, and was replaced by Toby Flood.
With a little over 15 minutes to go, France took the initiative again with Picamoles the danger-man, but soon after that, Les Bleus ran out of steam.
It was to become the Battle of the Benches as both England and France brought in replacements.
France seemed to revert to the squad formation that had played the first two games, and as a result lost a lot of the momentum that had made them dangerous for most of this match.
Two penalties from Toby Flood showed how the French were unravelling, as England put themselves further ahead with a 10 point lead, which could not be caught.
England will host Italy in Round 4, on 10th March.