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Last Updated: Sunday, 11 March 2007, 16:45 GMT
Twickenham, London - 11 March, 2007
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By James Standley

England players, led by skipper Mike Catt, celebrate Mike Tindall's try
Mike Catt's break led to Toby Flood scoring in the second half

England 26 (9)
Tries: Flood, Tindall
Pens: Flood 3, Geraghty
Cons: Flood, Geraghty

France 18 (12)
Pens: Skrela 3, Yachvili 3

England ended France's hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam as they beat them for the first time since the World Cup.

Three penalties from David Skrela and one from Dimitri Yachvili, to three from Toby Flood, gave France a 12-9 half-time lead at Twickenham.

England went in front soon after the break through Flood's converted try.

France hit back with two Yachvili penalties but replacement Shane Geraghty kicked five points and set up a Mike Tindall try to secure victory.

After their static and laboured displays so far in the championship England, who had made 11 changes, were determined to inject some life into their performance.

606: DEBATE
JW

The pack, so disappointing in the defeat by Ireland, matched their French counterparts in the tight and the mobile back row ensured England were competitive around the park.

Flood prompted to good effect and Josh Lewsey made one fine break as England started brightly, while David Strettle looked a threat virtually every time he touched the ball.

It was far from perfect from the world champions, with Mike Catt, Tindall and Lewsey all making mistakes, but France were largely kept at arm's length in the opening exchanges.

However, on the rare occasions they visited the England half indiscipline from the home side gave them the chance to kick for goal.

Skrela, who made a miraculous recovery from a serious-looking ankle injury, landed three penalties, with Flood replying with one for England, to give the visitors a 9-3 lead after 25 minutes.

Despite the setbacks England refused to go into their shells and although they struggled to go through more than three phases without losing control of the ball they earned four more penalties.

Flood could only land two of them, missing two difficult chances, and with Yachvili on target when he took over from the hobbling Skrela the visitors led 12-9 at the break.

England fly-half Toby Flood (left) tries to hold off France wing Vincent Clerc
Flood (left) scored the first try for England at Twickenham on Sunday

After their efforts in the first half England were determined to keep the tempo high after the break and they launched a sustained attack on the French line, only to meet some ferocious defence.

England were driven back from the French goal-line to the visitors' 22 and it looked as though there was nowhere to go.

But Catt realised he was opposed by French hooker Raphael Ibanez and sliced through the cover before feeding Flood, who crossed untouched.

Flood converted and England led 16-12 with just over half an hour to play, but the hosts' indiscipline soon reappeared and Yachvili kicked France back into the lead with two penalties.

England then lost Flood, 21, with a dead leg but they continued to play with pace and when France infringed to halt a threatening attack, replacement fly-half Geraghty, just 20, marked his debut by slotting the penalty.

France went back on the attack but England held firm and they clinched the game with a cracking try set up when Geraghty ran a French kick back and made a dazzling break through the middle.

When he flung the ball back inside Catt could not take it but Tindall was on hand to romp over by the posts.

Geraghty added the conversion as England showed there are signs of life in coach Brian Ashton's rebuilding world champions after all.


England: Lewsey; Strettle, Tindall, Catt (capt), Robinson; Flood, Ellis; Payne, Chuter, White, Corry, Palmer, Worsley, Rees, Easter.
Replacements: Mears, Turner, Deacon, Lund, Perry, Geraghty, Tait.

France: Poitrenaud; Clerc , Marty, Jauzion, Dominici; Skrela, Yachvili; Milloud, Ibanez (capt), De Villiers, Nallet, Thion, Betsen, Bonnaire, Chabal.
Replacements: Mas, Bruno, Pape, Harinordoquy, Mignoni, Beauxis, Heymans.




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