Farrell: It was my fault
REACTION: Owen Farrell admitted it was “my fault” that England needed sudden-death extra-time to see off a third-string France team 22-19 in a dramatic year-end Nations Cup Final at Twickenham on Sunday.
It looked like France, whose starting XV contained a mere 68 caps compared to England’s 772, were about to pull off a famous win at 19-12 up heading into the last minute of normal time.
But replacement forward Luke Cowan-Dickie denied France in the closing moments by forcing his way over from close range for a try that England captain Farrell converted to tie the scores at 19-19.
That took the match, watched by a crowd of 2,000 spectators as fans returned to Twickenham for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic, into sudden death.
The normally reliable Farrell, who only landed five of his nine goal-kicks, then saw a penalty come back off the post before he was on target four minutes from the end of the additional period after England lock Maro Itoje won a crucial turnover.
“I missed some that I definitely, definitely shouldn’t have missed and made that game go on longer than it should have,” Farrell told reporters.
“There were a lot of chances to win that game and it was my fault that we didn’t take them, but the boys kept going at it.”
France were the only team to beat Six Nations champions England this year when they triumphed 24-17 in Paris in February.
But even though they lost on Sunday, this was arguably an even more impressive display given were missing 25 players because of an agreement with the country’s Top 14 clubs limiting individual involvement in a revised end-of-year Test schedule.
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‘Find a way’
Victorious England coach Eddie Jones even went as far to say that his side, last year’s losing World Cup finalists, would have been beaten by France if this match had been played 12 months ago.
“I was really pleased with the fight we showed,” said Jones.
“We weren’t at our best, for whatever reason and we had to find a way to win that game,” the veteran Australian boss added.
France led 13-6 after a first half of normal time featuring a fine try by full-back Brice Dulin, before England edged past them.
“We wouldn’t have won that game 12 months ago, we’d have lost it. That’s a good learning for us,” said Jones.
France coach Fabien Galthie was understandably proud of his team.
“We wanted to put the players in the best possible condition mentally and physically,” he said. “We worked a lot on strategy.”
However, the former France captain was unhappy with some of the decisions made by Irish referee Andrew Brace, who gave detailed instructions in English throughout the game without being anywhere near as specific when he spoke French.
“The game was lost on details, but also on [refereeing] decisions, it’s very frustrating,” said Galthie.
“I hope, next time around, some will go our way.”
And then this is what led to France being penalized… pic.twitter.com/RvJ57hOcGX
— Derek Alberts (@derekalberts1) December 6, 2020