Feisty French snatch victory from England

13th February 2005, Comments 0 comments

LONDON, Feb 13 (AFP) - France kept their dream of back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams alive with a remarkable 18-17 come-from-behind win against world champions England at Twickenham here Sunday.

LONDON, Feb 13 (AFP) - France kept their dream of back-to-back Six Nations Grand Slams alive with a remarkable 18-17 come-from-behind win against world champions England at Twickenham here Sunday.

Recalled scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili was France's hero, landing six penalties from eight attempts.

England scored tries through Olly Barkley and Josh Lewsey with fly-half Charlie Hodgson kicking two conversions and a penalty.

But, crucially Hodgson and Barkley missed seven goal kicks between them, including Sale fly-half Hodgson's last-ditch drop-goal effort, as England were left again to rue the absence of injured World Cup hero Jonny Wilkinson.

Thanks to Yachvili's boot, France overturned a 17-6 half-time deficit into a one point win, their first against England at Twickenham since 1997 and the first time since 1987 that England have lost three successive Six Nations matches, having lost to France in Paris in the last match of the last campaign.

Defeat was England's eighth in 11 matches and was their second straight loss in this year's Championship after last week's 11-9 reverse against Wales.

Yachvili, who appears to reserve his best performances for England having been outstanding in the win in Paris last year, said it was thanks to an improved second-half performance that they had pulled off another narrow victory as they had against Scotland in their opening match.

"It means a lot to us to win here," he said.

"We didn't play well last week against Scotland and we won.

"We did not play well today and we won again. We are very proud to have beaten the English at Twickenham.

"We were very poor in the first half - we were just defending. We said at the interval that we had to play better and put them under pressure and we did that," added the 24-year-old, who was winning his 16th cap.

An emotional Hodgson braved the spotlight to explain away his poor kicking.

"Very disappointing, it was something hard to get through but I must come back from it.

"All week my training's been good. However I came to the game and couldn't perform.

"The reason Olly took the kicks in the first-half was the wind wasn't strong enough for me.

"With the drop goal attempt I felt as soon as it hit my boot it had missed."

England coach Andy Robinson said that it had been a case of not being able to replicate what they had done in the first-half.

"Very frustrating, the lads gave everything. Lot of ambition in first half, they went out to sustain it in the second but couldn't build on it. Suddenly France were back in the game.

"Keep working on the kicking. The key thing for us is we went out to play and played some very good rugby and what have France done, they've won the game from kicking penalties from our ten metre line," added the former England flanker.

The match a total reversal of stereotypes with France relying on the boot and keeping their discipline as England, whose backs outplayed their opponents in attack, repeatedly offended.

France had made a shaky start to the defence of their Grand Slam crown with a fortunate 16-9 win at home to Scotland and Yachvili was one of five changes made by coach Bernard Laporte.

After Hodgson missed an early penalty France took the lead through Yachvili in the fifth minute.

France had to fall-back on the delaying tactic of slowing down English ball and were frequently penalised by New Zealand referee Paddy O'Brien for offences at the ruck.

England took the lead in the 19th minute with the game's first try.

The Leicester trio of No 8 Martin Corry, scrum-half Harry Ellis - on his full England debut - and flanker Lewis Moody were all involved before Barkley exchanged passes with Noon and burst past France fly-half Yann Delaigue and inside centre Damien Traille for a try by the posts.

Hodgson converted and England were 7-3 up.

Yachvili then missed a penalty chance before Hodgson nudged England further ahead with one of his own after France handled in the ruck.

Yachvili then brought France to within four points before Hodgson missed a routine chance from in front of the posts.

But three minutes before the break England had their second try when Lewsey after an interchange with lock Danny Grewcock bounced off France hooker Sebastien Bruno and beat full-back Pepito Elhorga.

Hodgson converted and England were 17-6 up before Barkley narrowly missed two long-range efforts.

France captain Fabien Pelous conceded another penalty in the 47th minute after barging through at a lineout but Hodgson missed again.

And Yachvili, who'd seen an earlier effort bounce off the left post, reduced the gap to 17-9 after England held on at a ruck.

The French pack forced England to concede a 56th minute penalty which cut the hosts' lead to just five points heading into the final quarter.

England, then conceded another penalty as Moody was pegged for offside and Yachvili, from 45 metres was on target again.

Now England were just 17-15 ahead but Betsen then conceded a penalty only for Barkley to see his third long-range effort just drift wide.

Yachvili then saw a penalty effort from half-way just fall short before further English indiscipline saw prop Graham Rowntree, winning his 50th cap, straying offside.

This time Yachvili's effort brushed off the post and France, with 11 minutes to go were ahead at 18-17 before holding on for a famous win.


Subject: French News

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