Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 December 2014

England power to win over French

Manu Tuilagi scored a try on his return to the England team
Manu Tuilagi scored a try on his return to the England team

Manu Tuilagi scored an opportunist try as England powered home in the final quarter to remain on course for the Grand Slam with a 23-13 victory over France at Twickenham.

Trailing 10-9 at the interval with a Wesley Fofana try doing the telling damage, Stuart Lancaster's side pulled away after the interval through Tuilagi and two penalties from Toby Flood.

Owen Farrell kicked 12 points before limping off with a hamstring injury as superior England celebrated a deserved victory.

England won the RBS 6 Nations title in 2011 but they have not completed a clean sweep since Martin Johnson led them to the Grand Slam 10 years ago.

Farrell kicked England into a first-minute lead but France responded with Francois Trinh-Duc's intricate chip over the top for Fofana drawing the hosts offside and Morgan Parra equalised.

Tuilagi burst through one defender and into the French 22 before he was felled by a brilliant, try-saving tackle from Parra. With a penalty coming, Farrell overhit a chip to the corner aimed at Chris Ashton but the England fly-half slotted the shot at goal to restore the lead.

Two minutes later, Fofana scored a brilliant solo try, evading five tackles in a blistering break down the left wing after France had moved the ball wide quickly.

Fofana slipped out of Lawes' grasp, evaded Joe Marler and brushed off Ashton before streaking clear, showing too much pace and footwork for Ben Youngs and Ashton again. It was a brilliant moment and Parra converted for a 10-6 lead.

Farrell kicked his third penalty but the decisive moment came when Tom Wood stuck an unspotted boot on the ball at the bottom of a ruck and it ricocheted out to Tuilagi, who galloped over in the corner.

Michalak stroked over a penalty before Farrell, who had scuffed his conversion shot, pulled a penalty attempt wide and limped off injured but the England bench made by far the greater impact and Flood wrapped up the victory with two penalties.

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