England v France

Eddie Jones's side are looking for a record 15th win but a big French side stand in their way

Patrick Madden Sat, Feb 4
LIVE: England v France

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  • 16:44


    Only one game has been played in the 2017 Six Nations but already it is advantage England after Ireland's narrow opening defeat to Scotland in Edinburgh.

    Eddie Jones's side begin the defence of their crown against France at Twickenham this evening knowing a win would strengthen their position as tournament favourites.

    They are also looking for a 15th straight Test match victory, which would represent a pretty impressive national record.

    But if one side could slow the English bandwagon it could be the mercurial, if unpredictable, French.  

    We'll be bringing you all the action from Twickenham, so get settled and keep everything crossed France can do Ireland a favour. Allez les Bleus!

    Come on!!!

  • 16:47


    England:  M Brown (Harlequins); J May (Gloucester), J Joseph (Bath), O Farrell (Saracens), E Daly (Wasps); G Ford (Bath), B Youngs (Leicester); J Marler (Harlequins), D Hartley (Northampton, capt), D Cole (Leicester); J Launchbury (Wasps), C Lawes (Northampton); M Itoje (Saracens), T Wood (Northampton), N Hughes (Wasps). Replacements: J George (Saracens), M Mullan (Wasps), K Sinckler (Harlequins), T Harrison (Northampton), J Haskell (Wasps), D Care (Harlequins), B Te’o (Worcester), J Nowell (Exeter).

    France:  Scott Spedding, Noa Nakaitaci, Remi Lamerat, Gael Fickou, Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Lopez, Baptiste Serin; Cyril Baille, Guilhem Guirado (captain), Uini Atonio, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Yoann Maestri, Damien Chouly, Kevin Gourdon, Louis Picamoles. Replacements: Clement Maynadier, Rabah Slimani, Xavier Chiocci, Arthur Iturria, Loann Goujon, Maxime Machenaud, Jean Marc Doussain, Yoann Huget.

  • 16:47
    The teams are out at Twickenham and the anthems are underway.
  • 16:50
    Conditions are fair in London. Farrell has the ball in hand - and we're off!
  • 16:51
    1 min: France set from the kick off and Lopez clears as far as Hughes who has an early rumble. England look to set just outside the French 22 but Youngs throws a poor pass to Hughes who spills it forward off his boot laces.
  • 16:54
    2 min: The scrum takes a while and is reset but then France get clean ball. They move it right and Vakatawa offloads excellently to Nakaitaci who burns down the flank and kicks ahead. He is taken out  off the ball by Brown but England get away with it and will defend a five-metre scrum. Bright start from France.
  • 16:55
    3 min: England awarded a soft free-kick from the scrum and they clear.
  • 16:57

    5 min: France are moving the ball very nicely in the opening stages, Fickou and Spedding seeing plenty of it. Good ball retention from France and they have a penalty coming. They look to move it wide and Picamoles has a big rumble into the 22. Back for the penalty on the left.

    Lopez to go for goal, and it's a nice kick.


  • 17:00

    8 min: Fickou clears France's lines but only as far as Brown who stretches his legs for the first time. He runs into traffic and when the ball is recycled Lawes gets absolutely emptied by Vahaamahina. England retain it though and Chouly is penalised for spoiling on the deck.

    Farrell has a chance to restore parity, and he makes no mistake.


  • 17:01
    10 min: May does well from the restart and Joseph nearly wins Youngs' boxkick but it falls for Spedding, who runs onto it from deep and slaloms his way up to the English 22. France back on the attack.
  • 17:02
    11 min: Lopez throws a dangerously flat ball straight to Wood but luckily for the French outhalf England's seven was offside.
  • 17:05
    12 min: May tries to dump Fickou and loses him in midair, the French centre landing very awkwardly. It's definitely a penalty, but there might be further punishment for the England winger. And he's in the bin!
  • 17:06

    Lopez to have a pop at goal from the left channel. It looks like he's hooked it but it just squeezes inside the far post.


  • 17:07
    13 min: Ford has the ball in centre field and sees his kick charged down by the giant Vahaamhina. It falls for Daly who manages to avoid the secondrow and pins his kick tight into the far corner.
  • 17:08
    14 min: Big defensive lineout for France and their task is made easier as Marler comes in from the side and gets pinged.
  • 17:09
    16 min: A great flat ball from Joseph on the right gives Daly some day light down the right but he can only kick ahead straight into touch.
  • 17:11
    17 min: Hartley tries to take a quick lineout but only manages to throw it into the back of Cole's head with the tighthead looking the other way getting ready to lift. Ha.
  • 17:13

    18 min: Solid French scrum and Picamoles picks and works the blindside, finding Gourdon with the offload. France keep the ball and then work the shortside again - Picamoles making big yards and brushing off three tackles, the last of which was high from Itoje. There's a bit of afters on the deck between the little scrum half Serin and Wood.

    The TMO is having a look at the tackle - just a penalty.

    Lopez goes for goal again and it just creeps over. Great start for France.


  • 17:16

    21 min: Lopez intercepts in midfield and thinks he's away - but England had a penalty advantage. Lazy from Vahaamahina on the deck, although it would take him longer than most to roll away. May is back on the England.

    Farrell will go for goal, lovely clean strike.


  • 17:18
    24 min: Fickou does well to secure the ball from a garryowen with Joseph challenging. France then get pinged for crossing, prop Atonio getting in the way.
  • 17:19
    25 min: England win lineout ball and maul inside but a brilliant counter led by skipper Guirado sees France win the scrum. Big defence.
  • 17:20
    26 min: France earn a free kick form the scrum and they tap and go through Picamoles. Chouly picks and carries but then tries to make extra yards after the tackle and concedes a sloppy penalty.
  • 17:21
    27 min: England get quick ball off the top and get front foot ball as Farrell bursts into the 22. But then Wood charges in off his feet and France have a penalty.
  • 17:23

    28 min: Electric rugby from France. They get clean lineout ball and Picamoles runs a booming line to get up to the 22. They then work it back right to Nakaitaci who zooms down the flank and is just hauled into touch.

    England take a quick lineout and Youngs opts to pick and snipe down the blind and finds Daly outside him, he makes good ground and then England are awarded the penalty after France kill it on the deck.

  • 17:24
    30 min: England secure the lineout and are into the French 22. They are starting to build some pressure until Itoje looks for Lawes and the ball is spilled forward. France can breathe again.
  • 17:25
  • 17:29

    33 min: Lopez can't secure a high ball and spills it forward. England have a huge overlap on the left but for some reason Ford opts to kick with men outside.

    Great play from Vakatawa, collecting from deep and chipping ungainly over the top before managing to collect the bouncing ball. England are then penalised after Wood flops on a loose ball round the fringes. Hartley has a moan at the referee with no real success.

    Chance for Lopez to put France six points clear - pushes it.


  • 17:32

    36 min: England scrum just inside the French half and they win a penalty after the visitors engaged too early.  

    This is out of Farrell's range so Daly will have a pop from distance. Monster kick.


  • 17:35

    39 min: Solid French lineout on halfway and they maul into English territory. They look to move it but there's bodies in the way and it goes forward off a French hand.

    England clear but only to Vakatawa who shows serious pace as he runs it back. France retain the ball and then Spedding nearly gets over on an arcing line. Can France strike late? They kick crossfield and Lamerat wins it, he has a runner inside but doesn't give the ball and England are reprieved. That was a golden chance.

  • 17:35
  • 17:50
    Lopez has the ball in hand, and we're back underway!
  • 17:51
    41 min: England kick it back from the restart and Picamolespicks up where he left off with a big carry. France then knock it forward and England move it left, Daly nearly engineers some space on the left. It's back with the French and they knock forward again. And breathe.
  • 17:53

    42 min: France pinged at the scrum, penalty England.

    Farrell can give England the lead for the first time - but he hits the post!

  • 17:54
    43 min: France break upfield instantly, Lamerat finding Vakatawa who carries and stabs ahead before he's hauled down. Brilliant from France.
  • 17:56
    44 min: France on the front foot now deep inside the England 22. They're keeping it tight and letting their monsters grind out the hard yards until Serin dithers and loses it. England clear and Spedding runs it back, making good yards after a brilliant step, but then France are penalised.
  • 17:57
    45 min: England pressing in the French 22 and it's dinked over the top for Joseph. Vakatawa is painfully slow on the cover but luckily Serin is alert to the danger and touches down.
  • 18:00

    46 min: Better from England. Ford dummies a kick and finds Farrell who breaks and feeds Daly on the left. He burns down the flank and dives over for the score - but referee Gardner will check upstairs. Replays show his foot was just in touch - stunning covering tackle from Nakaitaci.  

    Big defensive lineout from France and they look to maul but they get penalised and England will have a scrum on the five, Huge chance.

  • 18:01
    48 min: The scrum is a bit of a mess again and it's reset. England get it in second time round but France put in a huge shunt and the home frontrow pops up. Penalty France, great effort.
  • 18:04

    49 min: Serin box kicks and Nakaitaci rises brilliantly to claim it. Lopez then looks crossfield and May scoops it up and arcs his run to the left where he is tackled on the 22. England kick to Picamoles and he runs straight at Farrell, who fronts him and holds him up, winning a penalty. Huge tackle.

    The TMO has called it back for a high tackle on May by Gourdon - that's very soft.

  • 18:04
  • 18:05
    52 min: France running from deep and Vakatawa has half a yard on the outside but Farrell is across again to haul him out. Game is getting stretched now.
  • 18:07

    53 min: England opening up a bit and lovely hands free up Brown who runs up to the French 22. They try to release Joseph on the left before keeping it tight and trying to burst their way through. England have a penalty coming and when it eventually breaks down after Wood spills it, Hartley points to the posts.

    Simple chance for Farrell, and he drains it.


  • 18:09
    55 min: France looking leggy and Lamerat tries to intercept but gets pinged for a deliberate knock on. England lineout just shy of the 22.
  • 18:09
    56 min: England get up to the 22 but the ball goes forward and France can breathe.
  • 18:13
    57 min: Farrell tries to pin a kick in behind but overcooks it and France will have a scrum on halfway. France win a free kick which Picamoles take quickly and France work it to Vakatawa through Fickou and England are scrambling.
  • 18:13
    TRY FRANCE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • 18:16

    France keep up the pressure inside the 22, they have a penalty coming but they strain to keep the ball alive. They look short and left and Picamoles slips the ball out of the tackle to Gourdon who offloads to Slimani and the replacement prop crashes over. Great perseverance, great score.

    Lopez converts.

    61 MIN: ENGLAND 12 FRANCE 16

  • 18:20
    63 min: England scrum in the French 22 under the posts. France put the pressure on but England dig it out. Youngs finds Ford and takes it back on the loop but his next pass is knocked on and France break down the left.
  • 18:21
    65 min: France playing from deep again and they get up to halfway but Vakatawa's kick ahead is poos and easy for Brown to counter. A good kick from Ford pins France back inside their 22.
  • 18:23
    66 min: France secure it and set the defensive maul before Picamoles peels off and slips off to Machenaud who loses it in the tackle. Lost count of how many times France have knocked forward in similar situations.
  • 18:25
    67 min: Solid English scrum and France are penalised for collapsing. England go for the corner.
  • 18:27
    69 min: Itoje plucks George's throw out of the air and England set the maul. There's little momentum though and they have to use it - new man and former Leinster centre Ben Te'o taking a crash ball. England turning the screw and getting up to the French five with a penalty advantage.  
  • 18:27
  • 18:29

    England have another penalty advantage coming and they are patient and relentless. Eventually Care moves it left and it's popped to Te'o, who storms in on an unstoppable line and crashes over.

    Farrell converts.

    71 MIN: ENGLAND 19 FRANCE 16

  • 18:31
    72 min: A good kick from Farrell pens France back but Spedding is equal to it and clears up towards the England 10-metre. France chasing now though.
  • 18:33
    73 min: France running from deep and Nakaitaci bounces Nowell before trying to find Vakatawa and running out of space. France's ball retention on the whole has been poor.
  • 18:34
    74 min: England penalty on halfway after Maynadier came in from the side at the lineout maul. The ball is nudged up to the 22 where Itoje claims the lineout.
  • 18:36
    77 min: France just about retain the ball from a scrum deep in their 22 but they're under the cosh and Machenaud can only clear as far as the 10.
  • 18:38
    78 min: England in possession on the French 10, they just need to keep it tight. But there's a knock on and France will have a scrum and one last chance.
  • 18:40
    79 min: France in possession on halfway but they have a penalty coming. Play is brought back and there's just enough time to find touch - but the kick is short. Then Nowell kicks it back to France - one last play.
  • 18:40
    80 min: France have it but they're on their own 22 and it's very flat. And then England steal it.
  • 18:41
  • 18:59

    Right then, thanks for joining today. England's defence is off to a winning start, but Ireland can bounce back against Italy next weekend.

    We'll be back tomorrow as Wales travel to Rome to face Conor O'Shea's side.