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Brian Ashton celebrates with Jonny Wilkinson and Richard Wigglesworth
Ashton put aside his concerns to celebrate with his side
England coach Brian Ashton said he was confident his side were capable of beating France for their first Six Nations win in Paris for eight years.

Tries from Paul Sackey and Richard Wigglesworth, along with 14 points from Jonny Wilkinson, helped England to a 24-13 win over a youthful French side.

"We played two half-games (against Wales and Italy) and we needed to put in an 80-minute performance," he said.

"I never had any doubts that they could produce a performance like that."

And Ashton singled out scrum-half Wigglesworth, who capped off a fine debut with a score in the corner in the final seconds of the match.

"What a way to end the game to score the try to take us out of sight," Ashton said. "He played really well, especially in what was quite a hostile environment for his first start."

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport's Ben Dirs in Paris

The Sale number nine praised the contribution of his forwards in the build-up to the 79th-minute try as they pummelled France's defence on their tryline with a series of continued bursts from the breakdown.

"The forwards were awesome - they kept hold of the ball for a good five minutes," said Wigglesworth.

"I saw a gap and I thought 'I'll regret it if I don't' so I went for the dive.

"I don't get many (tries) so I'm thrilled. But I'm going to get a bit of stick when I go back to Sale (for the celebration)!"

Captain Phil Vickery - who made his England debut as a replacement at the Stade de France 10 years ago - praised his side's dedication in grinding out a confidence-boosting victory.

"Some of the rugby perhaps was not fantastic, but the endeavour, will and commitment was fantastic, everyone worked extremely hard for 80 minutes," the Wasps prop told BBC Radio 5 Live.

It was not all plain sailing, there are a couple of areas we need to look at quite seriously

Brian Ashton

Meanwhile, fly-half Jonny Wilkinson said England were acutely aware of what France's talented backline could do if they gave them any opportunities to exploit.

"The way they are playing at the moment you are in danger of being torn apart," said Wilkinson, who became the world's all-time leading Test drop-goal scorer with 29.

"If you slacken off for a second or lose concentration, you just seem to be sprinting backwards.

"We're pleased with the way we played for 80 minutes because if we hadn't (performed), we most certainly wouldn't have had the better of that scoreline."

Despite his satisfaction at victory, Ashton warned that England still need to address a number of key areas.

"Although we were in the lead at half-time we had hardly had any of the ball," he added.

"It was not all plain sailing, there are a couple of areas we need to look at quite seriously."



SEE ALSO
France 13-24 England
23 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
Fra v Eng match stats
31 Jan 08 |  Rugby Union
Andy Gomarsall column
20 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
Geraghty out of Six Nations games
20 Feb 08 |  London Irish
Wigglesworth 'right for England'
20 Feb 08 |  English
Wigglesworth handed England call
19 Feb 08 |  English
Smith confident of Hodgson debut
19 Feb 08 |  London Irish
France forced into change at lock
19 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
France 26-21 Ireland
09 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
Scotland 6-27 France
03 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
Italy 19-23 England
10 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union
England 19-26 Wales
02 Feb 08 |  Rugby Union


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