France 25-13 England (attempt: Fickou, Cros, Dupont, cons: Jaminet x2, pens: Jaminet x2 | attempt: Steward, cons: Smith, pens: Smith x2)
STADE DE FRANCE – France turned their national stadium red, white and blue when they delivered a first Six Nations title and Grand Slam in 12 years.
While England had their moments, and pressed the team that was favorites for this championship all the way there was a clear gap in the cohesive force and closing force, which was reflected precisely in the position 25-13.
Thanks in part Wales shock loss to Italy earlier in the dayEngland were secured third place at the final table before kick-off as 79,000 fans packed the Stade de France in ear-splitting anticipation that their long drought would end.
Six Nations 2022 table and results
- Wales 21-22 Italy
- Ireland 26-5 Scotland
- France 25-13 England
- 1. France – 22 points (played 5, won 5, lost 0, +68)
- 2. Ireland – 21 (played 5, won 4, lost 1, +105)
- 3. England – 10 (played 5, won 2, lost 3, +5)
- 4. Scotland – 10 (played 5, won 2, lost 3, -29)
- 5. Wales – 7 (played 5, won 1, lost 4, -28)
- 6. Italy – 4 (played 5, won 1, lost 4, -121)
Meanwhile, for the third time in five seasons, England are on the wrong side of the results list with two wins and three losses in this competition.
Head coach Eddie Jones could, for some reason, point out that half of the first-team players led by captain Owen Farrell were absently injured – a facet in which the French and Ireland in second place were much less affected.
Jones is now back and repeats his well-known refrain about building to WC 2023 – when England were to return to this earth in the semi-finals and final, if they want to go all the way, very possibly with France as one of the opponents.
Right now, however, the red rose is about to wither, England looks like no world beaters, and Jones must convince his employers at Twickenham to maintain faith with his promise of a brighter horizon.
The light show before the match set off the Paris crowd, but in the first half the French were nervous and nervous and blew four good positions with lost passes – two of them slung against the receiver’s ankles.
England had their good patches where Marcus Smith found his kicking area and a chip caught by Freddie Steward on the wing to show that it made sense for Jones to shift the strong back from his favorite position
But England’s problem was holding on to the ball at the breakdown as the best attacking areas were stripped three times.
It was up to Gabin Villiere, the eerie 5-foot 11-inch French left, to take responsibility for tackling this huge event on his relatively small shoulders.
Villiere’s step back inside the move that led to France’s opening attempt in the 15th minute looked like a moment of timidity, but his show and go to deceive Maro Itoje all end a few stages later was a thing of beauty.
Cameron Woki passed it on and flyhalf Romain Ntamack threw a long pass on the jump to goal scorer, Gael Fickou.
Ellis Genge was an eye-catching runner from the backfield who clocked more yards up in the first quarter than any English stopper in the last 13 years.
But Genge were also involved in two penalty kicks that were cashed in by England on the scrum as France came under pressure and were full value for their second attempt just before the break.
Villiere’s bearing was again prominent in a series of phases completed by flanker Francois Cros, with Melvyn Jaminet’s conversion making the score 18-6.
Sam Underhill came through a huge amount of work for England and it was a shame that the Bath flanker’s pass behind a race in the French 22 could not be collected by Itoje.
There were undoubtedly attempts to get in this fight for England – if only they could achieve the coveted cohesive force.
Gangs began to make dents in a more dangerous part of the field, and finally there was reverberation of the November victory over the world champions South Africa with an attempt on the training ground in 47 minutes.
Joe Marchant smashed across the payline and Elliot Daly – who was an early sub for the injured Jack Nowell – put Steward into the right corner. Smith’s conversion made England’s supporters dream of a revolt again: 18-13.
But a crucial turnover involving Fickou caused France to sway.
And comes the hour mark, comes the man – the world player of 2021, Antoine Dupoint, who wringed his squat figure out of England’s grip for his team’s third attempt after Fickou slipped too lightly over the payline from a center-field screw.
England’s last chance was lost with 10 minutes left – Alex Dombrandt, on for Underhill, drove a tightening angle behind a line-out, but Damian Penaud and friends stood firm and kept the Harlequin up.