England bully flat France

England took a significant step towards a Six Nations title with a 17-9 victory over France at Twickenham.

It was a Test the northern hemisphere purists would deem a classic, but one that wouldn’t be appreciated as such in the south given the plethora of errors, poor skill level, incessant forward play and conservative tactics.

England outdone their bitter rivals in the facets that mattered, but it was hardly an inspiring performance, and definitely not one that should mark them as potential threats to southern hemisphere dominance of the World Cup.

And, oh, were France awful. With so much talk this week focussed on the physicality and intensity both sides would bring to this contest, France appeared to completely forget about the very basics of the game.

Certainly there was plenty of grunt at the collisions, you’d expect nothing less when they play England, but their ineptitude in most other facets of play ultimately cost them dearly.

Their ball protection at the tackle point was poor and ensured neither they were able to get any continuity into their game. Both sides were guilty of imprecise passing, amateur handling and poor decision making, but France just that little bit more. And rugby, being a game of small margins, meant they came out on the wrong end of the result.

The general incompetence meant the only points of the first half came via the boots of Toby Flood and Dimitri Yachvili, the siren sounding at nine all.

England improved after the break, Ben Foden rounding off a well crafted move three minutes into the half. Flood missed the conversion but landed a penalty shortly thereafter for a 17-9 lead.

At no stage did France threaten to rebound. They seemed a team resigned to defeat, which is not a trait unfamiliar to a France team away from home, and succumbed meekly.

With just Scotland (home) and an inconsistent Ireland (away) England must now be favourites for the title.

England - Tries: Ben Foden, Penalties: Toby Flood (4)
France - Penalties: Dimitri Yachvili