Six Nations
England fall short despite France victory

England fall short despite France victory

Despite a 55-35 victory over France, England fell short in their bid to clinch the Six Nations title.

England came up short in their quest to snatch the Six Nations from Ireland, despite a gallant 55-35 victory over France on Saturday.

Ireland's earlier 40-10 triumph in Scotland had left England needing to beat their visitors by a 26-point margin at Twickenham, but Stuart Lancaster's men failed to do so in a thrilling encounter that produced 12 tries.

Ben Youngs went over inside two minutes as England looked determined to make short work of their target, but France refused to roll over.

Twelve points up at the break, England could not shake off their opponents in the second, as the visitors restored some pride following a disappointing campaign.

James Haskell's yellow card shortly before the hour mark hurt the home side's chances - France running in two tries to England's one during the 10-minute sin-binning.

Nevertheless, England remained in with a chance until the closing seconds, but could not find the converted try that would have clinched the championship.

England got off to the ideal start as Youngs touched down after just 92 seconds.

A loose pass by France allowed Jonathan Joseph to make the initial break, and – via Mike Brown and George Ford – the ball found its way to Youngs to apply the finish.

France were intent on spoiling a Twickenham party, though.

Courtney Lawes fumbled a pass in midfield, releasing Sebastien Tillous-Borde down the left flank and the scrum-half sprinted clear to touch down unchallenged, before France stretched their advantage in controversial circumstances a few minutes later.

The visitors again found space down the left wing, but Noa Nakaitaci made a real mess of what should have been a simple finish and was fortunate to see his try given by the television match official (TMO) after almost running out of play and losing control of the ball.

Anthony Watson touched down on the half-hour mark, prompting another visit to a busy TMO, and Youngs doubled his own tally five minutes later courtesy of some quick thinking from a penalty.

A Ford kick sent England in at the break with a 12-point advantage, but Maxime Mermoz's try and the subsequent Jules Plisson conversion soon made a dent in that at the beginning of the second half.

A superb Youngs burst teed up Ford to add his own name to the list of try scorers in the 46th minute, and Jack Nowell extended the lead by exposing some questionable France defending as England moved 41-25 ahead.

Haskell was then sent to the sin bin for a trip on Plisson, but there was no let-up in the entertainment as Vincent Debaty and Benjamin Kayser touched down either side of a Billy Vunipola try.

Nowell crossed the whitewash again with five minutes left on the clock as England moved to within six points of their target, but Lancaster's men could not find the telling score, despite putting the France defence under immense pressure until the final whistle.

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