Record-breaking France humiliate clueless England
MATCH REPORT: France made a huge statement, handing England their heaviest home defeat of all time with a crushing 53-10 win at Twickenham on Saturday.
An utterly dominant France ended their 18-year wait for a Six Nations success at Twickenham by running in seven tries.
France ran in seven tries, with Thibault Flament, Charles Ollivon and Damien Penaud all crossing England’s line twice after Thomas Ramos went over for the opening five-pointer.
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It was England’s greatest loss on home soil, surpassing their 6-42 defeat by South Africa at Twickenham in 2008.
It was also their third worst anywhere after a 0-76 hammering by Australia in Brisbane in 1998 and a 2007 58-10 reverse against the Springboks in Bloemfontein.
Victory gave World Cup hosts France their biggest-winning margin over England, surpassing the 25-point gap achieved in both a 1972 37-12 success and a 31-6 triumph in 2006.
Both of those victories came in Paris, whereas the previous biggest win France had managed in defeating England at Twickenham was a mere eight points in an 11-3 success back in 1951.
France’s win on Saturday was all the more impressive given the rainswept conditions in southwest London.
And it maintained their hopes of a successful title defence following a second-round defeat by Grand Slam-chasing Ireland that ended Les Bleus’ 14-match winning streak against all opponents.
“I’ve been coming to Twickenham for a long while, 20 years. I realise. It’s emotional,” said tearful France coach Fabien Galthie.
“The players wanted to put in a big game against England. It’s hard for them. When you know the place rugby has in this country, our thoughts are with the England team who will experience a difficult moment.
“For us, it means we’re for real.”
This was England’s second defeat in four matches since Steve Borthwick succeeded Eddie Jones as coach, with the former Red Rose captain saying: “There is a gap, a big gap between us and the best teams in the world.”
The pre-match build-up had been dominated by Borthwick’s to drop captain Owen Farrell to the bench and start Marcus Smith at flyhalf in a team now led for the first time by prop Genge.
But before Smith or Genge could exert any influence on the match, France were 10-0 ahead after just five minutes.
Thriving on an early turnover ball, France needed just two minutes to open the scoring with a well-worked try.
Back-row Ollivon and lock Flament opened up England’s defence with two excellent offloads.
Left wing Ethan Dumortier continued the attack with a surging run before releasing Ramos for the fullback’s third try of the tournament.
Ramos converted his own score and soon afterwards added a penalty.
France are a far more settled side than England, who were playing just their fourth match since Borthwick succeeded the sacked Eddie Jones as coach, and that showed as Les Bleus won a succession of turnovers.
Les Bleus extended their lead with a superbly executed try in the 26th minute after scrumhalf Dupont’s brilliant left-footed 50-22 kick set up a line-out that led to Flament powering over from close range.
England eventually scored through a Smith penalty only for Ramos to respond in kind.
And on the stroke of half-time, France had their third try.
The platform came from a solid scrum, with No.8 Gregory Alldritt releasing Ollivon, who powered over the line.
England eventually managed a try when replacement scrumhalf Alex Mitchell released fullback Freddie Steward.
By now Borthwick had rung several changes, with Farrell replacing outside centre Henry Slade.
But it made little difference, the bounce of Dupont’s chip-kick over the top defeating England’s defence but falling kindly for Flament as he scored a 57th-minute try.
And three minutes later, France crossed England’s line for a fifth time, with Ollivon ruled to have grounded the ball following a lengthy review.
Despite the driving rain, Ramos drilled the conversion and there was still time for wing Penaud to add two more tries.
Man of the match: There were loads of nominees for this accolade. Charles Ollivon, Cyril Baille and Thibaud Flament all deserve a mention for their performance in the pack. Jonathan Danty made a couple of lethal runs while his off-the-ball work was amazing. As always captain Antoine Dupont put in another great performance. However, our nod goes to France fullback Thomas Ramos. The No.15 was a joy to watch, he made a couple of lethal runs and read the game really well. He also contributed 23 points (try, six conversions and two penalties) to the team’s tally.
Moment of the match: Thomas Ramos’ try scored in the first minute and the 40th second of the match. The five-pointer silenced the Twickenham crowd and set the tone for France’s onslaught
Tries: Ramos, Flament 2, Ollivon 2. Penaud 2
Cons: Ramos 6
Pens: Ramos 2
England: 15 Freddie Steward, 14 Max Malins, 13. Henry Slade, 12 Ollie Lawrence, 11 Anthony Watson, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Jack van Poortvliet, 8 Alex Dombrandt, 7 Jack Willis, 6 Lewis Ludlam, 5 Ollie Chessum, 4 Maro Itoje, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Jamie George, 1 Ellis Genge (captain).
Replacements: 16 Jack Walker, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Dan Cole, 19 David Ribbans, 20 Ben Curry, 21 Alex Mitchell, 22 Owen Farrell, 23 Henry Arundell.
France: 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Gael Fickou, 12 Jonathan Danty, 11 Ethan Dumortier, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont (captain), 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Thibaud Flament, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Replacements: 16 Peato Mauvaka, 17 Reda Wardi, 18 Sipili Falatea, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Sekou Macalou, 21 Maxime Lucu, 22 Yoram Moefana, 23 Melvyn Jaminet.
Referee: Ben O’Keeffe (New Zealand)
Assistant referees: Jaco Peyper (South Africa), Andrea Piardi (Italy)
TMO: Brett Cronan (Australia)
AFP & @rugby365com