Te'o matchwinner in dramatic Six Nations opener

International
AFP
by AFP

England coach Eddie Jones said his side had produced an "ugly" performance but a "beautiful" result after his reigning champions edged France 19-16 in their Six Nations opener at Twickenham on Saturday.

Victory saw England keep alive their hope of back-to-back Grand Slams as they posted a new national record 15th win in a row.

But a scrappy and error-strewn England were still in danger of defeat until replacement back Ben Te'o's first Test try nine minutes from time sealed a come-from-behind win.

"Sometimes these things happen, it is a game of rugby and there are humans involved," Jones told ITV.

"We made some silly handling errors, but we have some great finishers on the bench, we got really good value from them," added the Australian, who has won all 14 of his game in charge of England since taking over after the side crashed out in the first round of the 2015 World Cup on home soil.

Owen Farrell was a star for England. Photo: Getty ImagesIn addition to Auckland-born Te'o's try, Owen Farrell kicked 11 points, with England's other score a 48-metre penalty from long-range kick specialist Elliot Daly -- recalled by Jones for his first Test since being sent off against Argentina in November.

"The good thing for us is that we can shift around with Elliot Daly and Ben Te'o giving the French something different to look at in the centres," said Jones.

"The performance was ugly, but the result is beautiful."

England captain Dylan Hartley, after his first match in six weeks since suspension, admitted the champions had reason to thank their bench.

"Ben Te'o and James Haskell came on and gave us a good bit going forward at the end there, so unbelievable impact from our subs," said Hartley.

"We dug in, we found a way and we'll take something from that."

Ben Te'o dives over for his first England try. Photo: Getty ImagesNext up for England, who will break world champions New Zealand's tier one record of 18 consecutive Test wins with another Grand Slam, is a match away to Wales on February 11.

Wales begin their bid for 2017 Six Nations glory against Italy in Rome on Sunday and Hartley was in no doubt England would have to up their game in Cardiff.

"We need to be a bit more clinical with the ball in hand and probably not so passive in defence," he said.

"It keeps us grounded, keeps us ready for next week and we'll have to be a lot better to prepare for Wales," the hooker added.

Impressive France No 8 Louis Picamoles, a team-mate of Hartley's at English Premiership side Northampton, was named man-of-the-match.

France were on course for a shock win at 16-12 up when replacement front row Raban Slimani crossed for a converted try on the hour mark.

Louis Picamoles was shattered after his team's loss. Photo: Getty ImagesBut, as happened in their recent defeats by Australia and New Zealand, the French were once more unable to close out a win against a leading nation. 

"It was a very good performance from us but we lose again," said Picamoles.

"We need to win and continue to work hard but it's a good performance.

"Congrats to England but we are going to work harder for next week," he added ahead of France's match at home to a Scotland side who beat Ireland 27-22 at Murrayfield earlier on Saturday.

"The positive to take is the spirit we had. We stayed strong the whole game against a strong side but we need to work hard -- we need to remain more pragmatic and we need to take the points when we go on the attack."

Two late penalties in the last eight minutes by Scotland captain Greig Laidlaw gave his side a thrilling 27-22 Six Nations opening win against Ireland on Saturday.

Scotland shocked Ireland in the opening round of Six Nations. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Scots stunned the pre-Championship favourites with three tries in the opening 28 minutes -- two by dazzling full-back Stuart Hogg and by centre Alex Dunbar's ingenious intervention in a line-out -- but then saw their 21-5 lead disappear.

Winger Keith Earls had already scored one try for Ireland and two more in the second half -- by lock Iain Henderson and fly-half Paddy Jackson -- put Ireland ahead 22-21.

With the momentum against them, though, the Scots dug deep and Gloucester scrum-half Laidlaw nailed the two late penalties that secured their first opening round win since 2006.


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