Remarkable France keep England at bay

by AFP

France coach Jacques Brunel hailed his side's "remarkable defence" after Saturday's 22-16 victory over England, a result which left Eddie Jones bemoaning his players' inability to better learn to contest the breakdown.

Maxime Machenaud (4) and Lionel Beauxis landed penalties for France, who were also awarded a penalty try.

England's Owen Farrell (2) and Elliot Daly responded with their own penalties before Jonny May crossed for a try Farrell converted to set up a frantic finish to what had been a dour, defence-driven and often mistake-riddled encounter at the Stade de France.

The victory was France's second after they saw off Italy last week to break a losing streak going back 11 months.

Allied to that has been France's further dip in popularity after a controversial late-night, alcohol-fuelled drinking session following defeat in Scotland that saw eight players sanctioned by Brunel.

"France has gone through a tough time," the 64-year-old Brunel said.

"I believe we can come very close to the best. Against Ireland (lost 15-13 in the last minute), we were there, we lacked just a little bit at the end.

"Against both Ireland and England, we've shown we can go up against them and we will continue to do so."

Brunel added: "There were a lot of good things today. Our defence was remarkable. The line-out was a bit wobbly and the scrum as well. But there was a lot of energy and a lot of will from the players.

"There is a lot to be happy about. We knew that the physical challenge of the game would be a key factor. We controlled the ball and that upset them because they're not used to it."

England coach Jones saw his team concede a massive 16 penalties, with Anthony Watson also yellow carded for the high tackle on Benjamin Fall that saw South African referee Jaco Peyper award the penalty try to France.

"Obviously I'm very disappointed. We didn't take the opportunity to score points," the Australian said.

"The breakdown again caused us trouble. We improved in that area, but not to the extent we needed to. We just didn't learn quick enough. There's no lack of effort."


France 22

Tries: penalty try

Penalties: Machenaud 4, Beauxis 1

England 16

Tries: May 1

Conversions: Farrell 1

Penalties: Farrell 1, Daly 1