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Last Updated: Saturday, 18 August 2007, 20:52 GMT 21:52 UK
France 22-9 England
Fabien Pelous (L) and Yannick Jauzion
Jauzion is congratulated by Pelous after his second-half try

France 22 (12)
Try: Jauzion
Con: Elissalde
Pens: Elissalde 4, Michalak

England 9 (3)
Pens: Wilkinson 3

England's dismal away form continued as they suffered a defeat against France in Marseille in their final warm-up game before the World Cup.

A bruising and physical first half saw France take a 12-3 lead with four Jean-Baptiste Elissalde penalties.

They extended the lead when Yannick Jauzion scored a well-worked try while a limited England could only muster three Jonny Wilkinson penalties.

Skipper Phil Vickery and Martin Corry both came off injured.

England have only won once in their last 16 away matches and only three times on the road since winning the World Cup in 2003.

And the result leaves head coach Brian Ashton with plenty to think about ahead of England's opening World Cup game against the USA on 8 September.


His main issue will be how he can improve England's creativity. In the two Tests against France, Ashton's men have failed to score a try.

And the scoreline could have been even worse for England as France missed three penalties as well as two gilt-edged try opportunities.

The opening half was cagey with referee Alain Rolland having his work cut out to keep a lid on the simmering atmosphere at a noisy Stade Velodrome.

Corry and French skipper Fabien Pelous, who is now France's most capped player after winning his 112th cap in Marseille, were spoken to after an off-the-ball tussle while Jason Robinson and Clement Poitrenaud also had a wrestle on the grass.

England were aggressive in defence and pressure by wing Josh Lewsey on an isolated Christophe Dominici led to Wilkinson's first penalty.

But as physical and intense England were in defence, they paid the price for lapses in discipline.

Simon Shaw tackles Damien Traille
Shaw saw yellow for this high tackle on Damien Traille

Scrum-half Shaun Perry was penalised for tackling Elissalde while the ball was still in the scrum and the France number nine was able to level the score.

Both Wilkinson and Elissalde missed attempts at goal as the dogged arm wrestle continued but France took the lead for the first time on 33 minutes when England were penalised for hands in the ruck.

The England mistakes kept coming and full-back Mark Cueto spilled a high ball which eventually led to Elissalde adding another three points.

It went from bad to worse for England at the end of the half and with the half-time whistle approaching, lock Simon Shaw was sin-binned for a high tackle on Damien Traille and Elissalde made the score 12-3.

The incident also left Vickery flat out on the ground and he had to be stretchered off as the half ended.

Matt Stevens came on for Vickery at the start of the second period and despite being down to 14 men, England reduced the deficit to six points with an early penalty from Wilkinson.

France though, were determined to ram home their advantage and Yannick Nyanga burst through the tackles of Lewsey and Cueto only for Wilkinson to produce a desperate last-gasp tackle to knock the ball out of the French flanker's hands as he was about to touch down.

Phil Vickery is stretchered off
Vickery had to leave the field after appearing to be knocked cold

From the resulting scrum, France claimed the first try of the game after Jauzion cut a perfect line on the inside of Frederic Michalak to power over despite the tackles of Andy Farrell and Perry.

Wilkinson managed to slot over on 56 minutes but France began to create more chances as a tiring England started to fall off their tackles.

And the home side should have made certain of the victory with 15 minutes to go but Imanol Harinordoquy failed to pass with full-back Poitrenaud standing clear on the overlap just five metres from the line.

Michalak took over the kicking duties after Elissalde was taken off and his 72nd-minute penalty effectively ended the match as a contest.

With the clock ticking down, Corry was forced off after picking up a nasty-looking knee injury and with Lawrence Dallaglio and Joe Worsley already on the field, centre Farrell had to pack down in the back row.

It was all too late though for England by then and they now return home to lick their wounds while an improving France travel to Wales for next weekend's Test in Cardiff.

France: Poitrenaud; Heymans, Traille, Jauzion, Dominici; Michalak, Elissalde; Milloud, Ibanez (capt), Poux, Pelous, Thion, Nyanga, Dusautoir, Harinordoquy.
Replacements: Bruno, Mas, Nallet, Bonnaire, Mignoni, Skrela, Rougerie.

England: Cueto; Lewsey, Hipkiss, Farrell, Robinson; Wilkinson, Perry; Freshwater, Regan, Vickery (capt), Shaw, Borthwick, Corry, Rees, Easter.
Replacements: Mears, Stevens, Worsley, Dallaglio, Gomarsall, Barkley, Sackey.

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18 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
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