English roll back the years in style
Published 16/03/2009 | 00:00
England romped to their most emphatic victory over France since the glory days of 2003 as Martin Johnson's under-fire side enjoyed a staggering return to form at Twickenham.
If this, as had been mooted in some quarters, was 'Le Crunch' for Johnson's regime after five defeats in seven Tests then England answered their critics in style.
All the talk of sin-binnings and ill-discipline was forgotten on a glorious spring afternoon as England roared into a 29-0 half-time lead with tries from Mark Cueto, Riki Flutey, Delon Armitage and Joe Worsely.
Flutey added a second shortly after the restart and although France managed two consolation tries through Dimitri Szarzewski and Julien Malzieu the match had long been won by England.
Johnson had reacted furiously in the stands at Croke Park a fortnight ago after England gifted victory to Ireland with a performance of gross indiscipline.
He put the team through boot camp-style training sessions in order to hammer home the message — and it worked.
England attacked from minute one. Flutey spotted the perfect mis-match and sliced past Sebastien Chabal before sending Cueto away to touch down the opening try with just 70 seconds on the clock.
Flood extended the lead to 10-0 after Harinordoquy was ruled offside before a slick attacking move sent Flutey over for a second try. From the back of an attacking lineout, Flood slipped an inside pass for Cueto to carve through the French line before returning the favour with the scoring pass for Flutey.
France were wobbling and England hammered home the advantage with two tries in the last three minutes of the half.
Half-time did nothing to dilute England's dominance or halt their momentum and when Yannick Jauzion spilled the ball after a brilliant tackle from Ellis, Armitage raced clear on the counter-attack and Flutey was on hand to finish a sparkling 75-metre try.
England finished on a high with another powerful carry from Easter sending Armitage on another blistering break into the French half.
Johnson had urged England to win back the faith of the Twickenham crowd. They did so in spades.