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France start Six Nations with a bang against error-prone England

England coach Eddie Jones had promised his team would unleash “brutal physicality” against the French, but they failed to deliver, the absence of Billy and Mako Vunipola as well as Manu Tuilagi’s early substitution clearly felt.

A dejected England at the Stade de France on Sunday.

A dejected England at the Stade de France on Sunday.Credit:Getty Images

Quick on their feet and brilliantly marshalled by scrumhalf Antoine Dupont, France – with only one player over 30 – put England on the back foot and defended with discipline and ferocity.

Handling errors

England lacked impact on the gain line and made several handling errors in a worrying display.

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Captain Farrell admitted England failed to defend properly, although he denied that mental fatigue was a factor.

“They were more aggressive from the word go, the second half was a bit better but we left ourselves with too much to do,” Farrell said.

Rattez, drafted in on Saturday after Damian Penaud sustained a calf injury, touched down after driving through two England defenders following an initial break from winger Teddy Thomas.

Tuilagi’s replacement by Jonathan Joseph did little to help England on the gain line and things got worse for the visitors when Ollivon made a run to the line after collecting a kick ahead.

England had stopped playing, believing the French captain knocked the ball on before a one-two with Rattez, but the TMO ruled the try should stand and Ntamack converted to open a 17-point lead.

It was the first time England had failed to score a point in the first half of a Six Nations match since 1988, and their biggest deficit at the break since trailing Ireland 23-3 in 2007.

France can now look forward to a game against Italy next weekend with confidence, while a wounded England travel to Scotland.

On Saturday, new coach Andy Farrell’s gritty Ireland side secured a 19-12 victory over Scotland, while winger Josh Adams’ hat-trick helped Wales to a crushing 42-0 victory over Italy.

Reuters, AAP

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