New year, same outcome, an English victory against the France vs Scotland Live grain but one of substance and character that completes a remarkable run of a record 15 successive victories. It was a historic moment if not a vintage display.It took a try in the 70th minute from former rugby league star, Worcester centre Ben Te’o, on his first Six Nations appearance, to seal the deal. It was a score fitting of the outcome it brought – passionate and defiant.
England rolled back the stone and came back from the apparent dead. It was the stuff of champions in that England had to dig deep to make it happen, to subdue a born-again France full of bite and sparkle with No 8 Louis Picamoles a monstrous presence. But this is what great teams do, live off their wits, absorb pressure and prevail. The All Blacks are masters of that trick.The replacement bench, with James Haskell and Te’o to the fore, yanked the pendulum back England’s way. England are not an all-star cast but they are a side of grit and belief. Let no-one doubt the mettle of this England side.
This was a triumph of heart and soul, a deeply flawed performance, ugly in its way, but hugely significant. England head to Cardiff, chastened but still with champion ambitions.Te’o has pressed his claim to start at the Principality Stadium, Haskell too. The switch of Maro Itoje to the blindside had a mixed yield but is worth another outing. An unprecedented back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slam is still a possible reality. But they all know, all acknowledged, that they will have to be much better than this.As for the championship itself, it is heartening to note two things: that France are back in business, contenders in all aspects, their France vs Scotland Live Stream vigour rediscovered. And even if the match had little sustained sweep and majesty, it was still compelling.
It was a scrap, a visceral battle of wills with England just having that little bit more doggedness and a deep-rooted urge to rage against the dying of any light. As for bonus points? Who needs them?England had to do it the hard way, coming from behind for large chunks of the match. Victory looked a forlorn prospect at many junctures. England were off the pace, subdued, passive, reactive rather than proactive. As they showed in those telling closing stages, they are at their most potent when they go at teams, make them blow hard, force errors. Eventually they did so and it brought its due dividend. Eddie Jones has spoken of the importance of the bench, stressing that modern day rugby is a 23-man effort.
England are living up to that maxim, Owen Farrell’s boot (and a long-range belter from Elliot Daly) keeping them hanging in there, waiting for the tide to turn, for that opportunity to present itself.Several England players had ‘big shoes to fill’, as Jones had said of Itoje’s task in replacing Chris Robshaw. The same was true of Nathan Hughes who was given the job of making the same full-metal-jacket impact as Billy Vunipola. Instead it was France, all pumped-up, all revved as they used to be for ‘Le Crunch’ who made so much of the running. England were on the back foot, scrambling and scrabbling, striving to get a foothold, any foothold. It was a salutary lesson. England lacked punch. At one stage Picamoles had made more metres than the entire England pack put together.
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England were under the pump. They had a wonderful attacking position from a scrum early in the second half after Elliot Daly’s toenail had scraped the touchline for what had looked like a good score. England, though, were turned over at the scrum.France, la belle France, have been anything but beautiful in recent years, more hag-worn and indifferent than carefree and expressive. Guy Novès has begun to bring about change, to Scotland vs France Live unshackle les Bleus, to make them play, to liberate them. It showed. This was France of old, with edge and desire.There was far more belief in their game, far more intent and understanding.They were very much back in the groove. Wing Noa Nakaitaci was a handful, full-back Scott Spedding a constant menace, making huge yardage. It took a great claw-back tackle from Daly on Nakaitaci in the first half to save the England line.
Daly stood out, his value also to be seen in his booming left boot which thumped over a 50-metre penalty before half-time to level the scores at 9-9. The Wasps’ wing further enhanced his cause with a potentially try-saving tackle on Spedding after another turbo-charged run.England have had trouble keeping players on the field. This time it was an early yellow card for wing Jonny May who was sin-binned for whipping the legs upwards of France centre, Gaël Fickou, in the 12th minute. It was not the most heinous offence but it made referee, Angus Gardener, reach for the yellow card. Camille Lopez kicked the goal, his second of the afternoon, Owen Farrell having slotted one earlier.England were lucky to be level, 9-9, at the break. But they found their mojo at half-time. There was more snarl in their play, more cleverness, more urgency.
France were forced to dig deep. Farrell’s long ball to Daly almost generated a try only for the television match official to spot the trailing boot. England got their noses in front when Farrell knocked over a penalty in the 50th minute.It was not to last long. France came back strongly. England appeared to stand off the ball once a penalty France vs Scotland Live had been indicated against Joe Launchbury for a high tackle. France struck, flanker Kevin Gourdon hit a sharp angle on to the ball before popping it up to replacement prop Rabah Slimani in support. Lopez converted to take the score on the hour mark to 16-12 in their favour.But this England team have shown time and again that they are made of stern stuff. And so it proved here. Haskell was thrown into the fray. Then Te’o. [Source]