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Resurgent France dump England out

England crashed out of the Rugby World Cup as France claimed a 19-12 victory to book a semi-final clash with Wales.

France, seemingly in disarray all week after their pool defeat to Tonga, surged into a 16-0 lead with first-half tries from Vincent Clerc and Maxime Medard.

Ben Foden responded with a touchdown in a better second half for England but France edged further ahead with a drop goal from Francois Trinh-Duc. Mark Cueto wrestled his way over the line for a second England try in the dying minutes but Martin Johnson's men were soundly beaten.

The tone was set early when Foden's grubber kick forced France to concede a lineout just five metres out - only for England to lose it on their own throw.

France cleared their lines after Lionel Nallet had stolen the ball and, when Flood was penalised for not releasing, Dimitri Yachvili drilled the first of two penalties. It was just the boost they needed.

Jonny Wilkinson's restart went straight out and England were on the back foot again, with Foden having to produce a magnificent try-saving tackle on Clerc.

England, whose discipline was being sorely tested, lost another lineout and paid the ultimate penalty as Clerc scythed through some weak defence to score the opening try. The France wing evaded Wilkinson's tackle and then shrugged off Ben Youngs and Foden to score.

Louis Deacon was penalised for offside as England invited more pressure on themselves. France piled forward again and Medard scored their second try. Thierry Dusautoir's drive had put France on the front foot and, with advantage being played, Morgan Parra spun the ball wide to Palisson, who drew Foden and offloaded for Medard to score.

After further errors undermined a period of pressure at the end of the first half England upped the tempo at the start of the second period but their execution remained flawed until Toby Flood picked out Foden and the full-back stepped inside to score under the posts. Wilkinson converted - his first shot at goal in 55 minutes.

Trinh-Duc wrapped up the victory with a drop-goal after some disciplined forward work from Les Bleus. England refused to go down quietly and Matt Banahan's break stretched the French, Flood stabbed a kick through for Simon Shaw and Cueto scrambled for the line. Flood missed the conversion but it was academic.


From Belfast Telegraph