England win the battle but lose the Six Nations war

England won the battle against France beating them 55-35 but lost the Six Nations war as they missed out on the title by six points on differential to Ireland.

Ireland win back to back Six Nations titles on points difference. On the final day of the Six Nations 211 points were scored.

England were left heartbroken after missing out on the Six Nations title again as they scored seven tries in an incredible result against France but still saw the crown go to Ireland.

Stuart Lancaster’s men lost out by a points difference of just six after a monumental effort to try and come out on top at Twickenham.

But they had to settle for second place for the fourth year running and were exhausted and devastated at the end of a game which saw France grab five tries.

“I’m gutted really. It was one of the most courageous performances I’ve seen from a team. It was an unbelievable game of rugby,” Lancaster told the BBC.

England walked out needing a 26-point victory to snatch the title from Ireland who had set them that target by smashing Scotland 40-10 at Murrayfield. The Irish had managed to leapfrog the Welsh who had hammered Italy 61-20 earlier on a day of see-sawing emotions.

France’s own hopes of an outside title had been extinguished by the result in Rome but they were clearly determined, in this World Cup year, to show what they can really do at Twickenham and spoil England’s title hopes.

Coach Philippe Saint-Andre felt his team could have got closer.

“We’ll try to digest this match, a top level match with great intensity,” he said.

“But we should have scored more points in our good moments.”

England were on course at half-time as they led 27-15.

A frenzied start, and indeed opening 40 minutes, saw a game full of free flowing attacking rugby plus points and thrills.

It took England just over a minute to surge into the lead with Ben Youngs surging over the line from close range after a blistering England attack left the French defence stretched.

Jonathan Joseph and Mike Brown worked the ball to George Ford who fed Youngs inside and the scrum-half dived over the line.

Ford converted and the stands seemed to tremble with the noise and excitement of the crowd’s celebrations. Ford missed a penalty while France fly-half Jules Plisson nailed his first kick.

Then came a real purple patch from the visitors as they surged over the England line for two fine tries. Firstly, scrum-half Sebastien Tillous-Borde was left with a free run from inside his own half all the way over the line for a try.

Then wing Noa Nakaitaci almost made a mess of a try when he also raced down the left flank and strolled across the line.

He delayed touching it down so long he almost put his left foot over the back line first. But video evidence showed he had just managed to get the ball down first by the skin of his teeth and Plisson converted for a 15-7 lead.

Tempers flared when the French players reacted angrily to Courtney Lawes’s diving, lunging late tackle on Tillous-Borde. Referee Nigel Owens calmed things down with no action taken.

Ford kicked a penalty before England were awarded a try when Anthony Watson grounded the ball in the right hand corner. It took countless video replays to judge whether there was a knock on or offside before Owens gave the score and Ford converted to put England ahead again.

The end to end action continued with Joseph’s stunning long break from inside his own 22 yard line up to near the French line. He was tackled short but England worked a quick penalty with Ben Youngs darting over for his second try.

England’s defence was sliced open at the start of the second half when fierce French pressure resulted in a try for Plisson, the scrum-half darting through with ease and converting his own score.

Ben Youngs burst through the French defence with similar comfort to slip the ball for Ford to go over unchallenged before converting his own try. England wing Jack Nowell followed up with a try as England began to believe again.

Replacement scrum-half Rory Kockott reduced England’s advantage with a penalty and the hosts were reduced to 14 men with James Haskell sin binned for tripping Plisson.

A break away try saw Nakaitaci feed prop Guilhem Guirado to go over the England line. Again England hit back with Billy Vunipola crashing over for England’s sixth try which Ford converted.

But yet again France hit back with replacement hooker Benjamin Kayser dropping down for a try from a French maul.

Nowell went over for his second try and England went for a grand stand finish but could not get the converted try needed to snatch the title.

Final Score England 53 (27) France 35 (15)

Scorers

England
Tries – B Youngs (2), A Watson, G Ford, J Nowell (2), B Vunipola
Pen – G Ford (2)
Con – G Ford (7)
Drop –
Cards –

France
Tries – S Tillous-Borde, N Nakaitaci, M Mermoz, V Debaty, B Kayser
Pen – J Plisson, R.Kockott
Con – J Plisson (2)
Drop –
Cards –

Match Officials
Referee: Nigel Owens(Wales)

Teams

England

Mike Brown; Anthony Watson, Jonathan Joseph, Luther Burrell, Jack Nowell; George Ford, Ben Youngs; Billy Vunipola, Chris Robshaw (capt), James Haskell; Courtney Lawes, Geoff Parling; Dan Cole, Dylan Hartley, Joe Marler

Replacements: Tom Youngs, Mako Vunipola, Kieran Brookes, Nick Easter, Tom Wood, Richard Wigglesworth, Danny Cipriani, Billy Twelvetrees

France

Scott Spedding; Yoann Huget, Gael Fickou, Maxime Mermoz, Noa Nakaitaci; Jules Plisson, Sebastian Tillous-Borde; Loann Goujon, Bernard Le Roux, Thierry Dusautoir (capt); Yoann Maestri, Alexandre Flanquart; Nicolas Mas, Guilhem Guirado, Vincent Debaty

Replacements: Benjamin Kayser, Rabah Slimani, Uini Atonio, Romain Taofifenua, Damien Chouly, Rory Kockott, Remi Tales, Mathieu Bastareaud

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