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Six Nations: England display delights Martin Johnson


Half-time changes worked for England - Johnson

England manager Martin Johnson praised the way his team overcame a "very physical" France side at Twickenham to maintain their push for a Grand Slam.

A second-half try from Ben Foden helped the hosts to a 17-9 victory, as they made it three wins out of three.

Johnson told the BBC: "It was a good performance. We didn't play well in the first half, but we changed it.

"They came to win the championship, it was very physical and I'm very happy with the win and the performance."

England's victory means they are now the only unbeaten side in the tournament.

If they win at home to Scotland on 12 March they will travel to Dublin for their final game in pursuit of a first Grand Slam since 2003, but Johnson said there will be no talk of a possible clean sweep in the England camp.

They are the best team in the north hemisphere, and now they have won today the path to the Grand Slam is wide open

Marc Lievremont,
France head coach

"What's the point?" said Johnson. "If you want to do something you talk about it at the end. If you do before you set yourself up for a fall."

Johnson, who reported "a few bruised and battered bodies", hopes that both Toby Flood (knee) and Andrew Sheridan (calf) will recover in time for the Scotland match.

Captain Mike Tindall, who had a late try disallowed for a double movement, agreed with Johnson that England had struggled in the first half but was pleased with the way his side had responded after the break.

"When they flooded the midfield we knew we had to change things around but sometimes you have to win ugly and, sometimes, you have to enjoy that," he told BBC Sport.

"In the first half we were a bit frantic, we didn't really settle into our game. It comes naturally when we get forward momentum, we did that in the second half and it was a bit better."

Lock Tom Palmer, who plays his club rugby in Paris for Stade Francais, produced yet another blemish-free performance in what has been an impressive Six Nations campaign for the 31-year-old.

The man of the match admitted it had been a bruising encounter, saying: "It was really tough, I'm absolutely knackered.

Ben Foden

England keeping feet on the ground - Foden

"It was a real challenge but we played pretty well at times. We've got a huge amount of belief in the team, had a great week's training, so we came out and put some of that into play.

"In the second half we raised our game, because we didn't really perform in the first half, but in the second half we cut out some of those mistakes, although we still could have been a bit more clinical at times.

"One more game and maybe we can start talking about the Grand Slam."

France coach Marc Lievremont, who had made some outspoken comments about the English before the match, said: "They are the best team in the north hemisphere, and now they have won today the path to the Grand Slam is wide open.

"I am really disappointed for the players. We knew at half-time it was going to be a very tough and close game, but we made a bad start to the second half, and that was the key.

"The first half was very balanced, but we remained very fragile.

"It was very difficult to come back and score again. We had to score twice, and England were fitter than us.

"They are a very good team, but they only won 17-9, and still have a step to go to improve their rugby."

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see also
England 17-9 France
26 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
England v France photos
26 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union
Six Nations table
10 Aug 06 |  Tables
Six Nations week three as it happened
26 Feb 11 |  Rugby Union

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