France held their nerve to beat England in the final match of the 2022 Six Nations in Paris on Saturday night and claim their first title since 2010.
France went into the Test needing a win, after Ireland had beaten Scotland with a bonus point earlier in the day to temporarily climb to first place.
Despite a nervy performance, filled with a number of uncharacteristic handling errors, France did enough to see off Eddie Jones’ England in a 25-13 win and break their Six Nations title drought, bagging the Grand Slam in the process.
It is a big statement of intent from the World Cup hosts, just over a year out before the global tournament, and equally an important demonstration that they have the temperament to win a major title.
The home side dominated the collisions and breakdowns, taking an early 8-0 lead through Gael Fickou’s try and Melvyn Jaminet’s first penalty. However, it was a less than clinical performance from the French and England managed to battle their way back into the match and narrow the score to 11-6.
France struck a crucial blow just before half time as they cut the line a couple of times before flank Francois Cros reached over to dot down from close range. Jaminet nailed the conversion to give France a 12-point lead at the break.
England put the title back in the balance when they struck early in the second half through Freddie Steward, after centre Joe Marchant ran an excellent line to break France’s defence.
The visitors seemed to be getting momentum and breaking tackles at that stage. However, two vital contributors to France’s campaign –Gregory Aldritt and Antoine Dupont – combined to deliver a telling blow as the No 8 offloaded to the scrumhalf for a try.
In a tense finish to the match, England enjoyed plenty of possession while France were more than happy to slow the game down and see it out.
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