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England 15-21 France
Twickenham - 11 August, 2007


England 15-21 France
1700 BST kick-off

By Phil Harlow

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80 mins: FULL-TIME
France do a clinical job of killing the remaining 90 seconds or so, and Frederic Michalak casually kicks the ball out after the hooter.

Despite the defeat, this was an encouraging display from England. It will be a blow to lose their last warm-up game before the 30-man World Cup squad is named on Tuesday, but several players really did their chances of selection the power of good.

78 mins: England rumble forward but there is a lack of dynamism. They swing the ball wide but France have a defender for every England attacker and Jamie Noon's pass, under pressure, to Nick Abendanon goes behind the full-back - that could be England's last chance.

77 mins: England turn French ball over in a dangerous position and launch an attack, but Andy Gomarsall coughs up the ball in contact. All is not lost though, with Frederic Michalak slicing his clearance kick off the side of his boot.

'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' echoes around the stadium, and Jonny Wilkinson comes on for Mike Catt. Olly Barkley will switch to 12, with Wilkinson straight in at fly-half.

75 mins: England are gamely attacking around the fringes, but France's defence seems comfortable with the job in hand.

71 mins: TRY England 15-21 France
Sebastien Chabal shows just why he is such a dangerous impact player as he bursts through the tackles of Nick Abendanon and Josh Lewsey out wide to cross.

Chabal gets the ball in the wide open spaces and brushes off Abendanon with sheer power. Lewsey, who was waiting out wide to mark his opposite man, makes an attempt to contain him but he is too high and the massive French replacement dives over.

Jean-Baptiste Elissalde curls the conversion between the posts.

69 mins: England win a scrum against the head, but the advantage quickly goes as Joe Worsley is pinged for holding on to the ball on the floor.

66 mins: A superb attack from England is ended just short of the try-line by a breathtaking tackle from Dimitri Szarzewski on Phil Vickery.

Nick Abendanon's support running gets in behind France's defence, but the try should have been scored out wide after Andy Gomarsall and Joe Worsley struggle to make the most of the space available out wide.

64 mins: England go long at the line-out to Joe Worsley, and the ball is kept for more than a minute with Mike Catt's inside balls - two in quick succession - providing the penetration. England are showing real signs of thinking about how they are structuring their attacks.

59 mins: PEN England 15-14 France
England pay the price for indiscipline 30m out, and France scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde slots a superb kick from a difficult angle.

57 mins: Both teams make changes, with Matt Stevens replaced by Phil Vickery and Simon Shaw making way for Martin Corry.

For France, the fearsome Sebastien Chabal takes the field, while Frederic Michalak makes his return to Test rugby.

55 mins: DROP-GOAL England 15-11 France
England go through phase after phase but the ball is getting slower and slower, so scrum-half Andy Gomarsall slots a cheeky little drop-goal from close range. Good option.

51 mins: Another decent England attack shows quick minds and feet from Nick Abendanon, Lee Mears and Josh Lewsey. Paul Sackey takes it on down the right but the attack gradually runs out of steam.

49 mins: Two replacements for England, with Lee Mears and Andy Gomarsall coming on for Mark Regan and Shaun Perry.

48 mins: England's defence is really standing up to be counted. Tackle after tackle stops France in their tracks, and a penalty eventually comes England's way.

45 mins: Another fantastic Jamie Noon tackle turns possession over. He cuts David Skrela in two, and is instantly on his feet to secure the ball for his team. Superb defensive work from the Newcastle centre.

44 mins: Jamie Noon is pinged for a dangerous spear tackle on David Marty. It is a great first-up hit, but the referee is not happy with what happens afterwards.

42 mins: France win a penalty after several England forwards fail to retreat after Nick Abendanon's up and under puts them offside.

David Skrela lines up the penalty from long range, but his kick lacks the legs and the direction.

41 mins: A scrappy start as France's kick-off does not go 10m. England play the ball inside the line and the referee plays on before a knock-on stops the flow.

1757: No changes for either side as the players run back out for the start of the second half.

40 mins: HALF-TIME
Shaun Perry boots the ball into touch as the hooter goes on an entertaining and genuinely competitive 40 minutes of action at Twickenham.

38 mins: PEN England 12-11 France
It's four out of four for Olly Barkley after France are penalised in front of their posts for a cynical killing of the ball.

Lawrence Dallaglio, who has never knowingly killed opposition possession in his life, wags his finger at David Skrela like a teacher running out of patience with a disobedient six-year-old.

34 mins: PEN England 9-11 France
A bit of naughty play from Raphael Ibanez as he takes a swing - and misses - at Mark Regan after a little altercation. Shaun Perry also gets involved and Regan has the last word, in one way, telling Ibanez to "just play rugby, mate".

To the disgust of the Twickenham crowd, the referee sticks with the original penalty for offside against Andrew Sheridan and David Skrela kicks France back in front.

32 mins: PEN England 9-8 France
Fantastic hit from Jamie Noon on his opposite number David Marty. The ball goes loose and France are penalised for obstruction after Pierre Mignoni's run down the blindside is shielded by Aurelien Rougerie.

Olly Barkley maintains his 100% record with another superb kick.

30 mins: For the first time in a while, England are playing with some ambition in their backline, but the precision is still lacking. A sweeping attack sees Nick Abendanon make good ground, but the momentum is gradually lost and Mark Regan eventually knocks on.

27 mins: This is much more like it from England. Clever angles and aggressive play see Mike Catt burst onto a short ball before going wide to Paul Sackey.

The Wasps winger tries to flick the ball out of the back of his hand to Nick Abendanon, but there are too many French defenders around and the ball goes out to touch.

25 mins: A very encouraging scrum for England as they totally disrupt France's ball. Shaun Perry pounces on the loose ball and a decent attack is only ended by an unfortunate knock-on.

23 mins: A great box kick from Shaun Perry puts France under pressure and Paul Sackey plucks the ball out of the air before launching another England attack.

21 mins: PEN England 6-8 France
Great work in the international sign language of refereeing from Alan Lewis. A promising England attack is stopped by France's Remy Martin, lazily running back onside right in the middle of the England backline.

A prolonged finger wag is followed by a point at his pocket, which translates as 'do that again and you're in the sin-bin.'

Olly Barkley again slots the kick to narrow the gap to two points.

19 mins: Jamie Noon finds himself turned over and France quickly swing the ball wide to number eight Julien Bonnaire whose kick ahead does not quite test England as it might have done.

17 mins: PEN England 3-8 France
England hooker Mark Regan is penalised for an offence on the floor and David Skrela, who has made an assured start, kicks the three points.

15 mins: Everybody can go home happy. Referee Alan Lewis gets knocked flying by a rampaging Ben Kay. He lets slip an expletive, as well he might.

11 mins: TRY England 3-5 France
A great score from France as Fabien Pelous, on the day he equals Philippe Sella's French record of 111 caps, squeezes in at the corner through Josh Lewsey's last-ditch tackle.

Aurelien Rougerie creates the problem with a powerful run through the middle, and then a delightful pass from David Skrela gives Pelous the chance to dive over at the corner.

Skrela just misses with the difficult conversion.

10 mins: France are unlucky as referee Alan Lewis blows up early when he could have played advantage. England are living dangerously, attacking from deep and getting turned over.

8 mins: PEN England 3-0 France
Ben Kay nicks possession at the line-out deep in England territory and Mark Regan tidies up.

Moments later, Kay wraps up Clement Poitrenaud in the tackle and Olly Barkley strokes over the resulting penalty with ease.

4 mins: Olly Barkley kicks a cheeky little chip down the left, but Clement Poitrenaud deals with it well, stepping out of trouble.

France launch a counterattack, swinging the ball to their left and a dangerous run by Vincent Clerc sees him burst into space before slightly overcooking his kick down the touchline. All the signs are of an evenly matched and attacking Test rather than last week's semi-opposed training run.

2 mins: An encouraging start for England, with a rolling maul on halfway followed up by decent runs from Jamie Noon and Josh Lewsey.

The attack ends though with England penalised for holding on to the ball on the floor.

1702: Olly Barkley kicks off for England on a warm and sunny day at Twickenham. France deal with it professionally and quickly clear to safety.

1655: It's fair to say that Lawrence Dallaglio looks up for this. There seems to be some kind of 'who can sing the national anthem the loudest?' competition going on, with Dallaglio and Josh Lewsey in the front running.

1651: France are waiting in the tunnel and are like cats on a hot tin roof, jumping about. An official informs captain Raphael Ibanez that England will not run out at the same time as Les Bleus.

Ibanez shrugs and leads his team out to a predictable chorus of boos. A minute later, Mike Catt emerges from the home dressing room and takes England out to a massive reception.

1645: Today's match is the final chance for England players to stake a claim for World Cup selection with coach Brian Ashton retaining only five of the starting XV from last week's comfortable win over Wales.

England lost flanker Lewis Moody to a calf injury on Friday, while France centre Yannick Jauzion failed a fitness test on Saturday and will be replaced by Damien Traille.

England: Abendanon, Sackey, Noon, Catt (capt) Lewsey, Barkley, Perry; Sheridan, Regan, Stevens, Shaw, Kay, Haskell, Worsley, Dallaglio
Replacements: Mears, Vickery, Corry, Borthwick, Gomarsall, Wilkinson, Cipriani

France: C Poitrenaud, V Clerc, D Marty, Y Jauzion, A Rougerie, D Skrela, P Mignoni; O Milloud, R Ibanez (capt), J-B Poux, F Pelous, J Thion, S Betsen, R Martin, J Bonnaire
Replacements: D Szarzewski, N Mas, S Chabal, Y Nyanga, J-B Elissalde, F Michalak, C Heymans.

England v France (Sat)
10 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
Strettle ruled out of World Cup
09 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union


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