|France: (0) 7|
|Try: the hermit; Opposite: Drouin|
|England: (10) 13|
|Try: Scarratt; Pens: Scarratt 2; Opposite: Scarratt|
England continued their successful start to the World Cup with a narrow victory over a determined France.
After France lost star players Laure Sansus and Romane Menager to injury, England’s Emily Scarratt scored her first try in Whangarei, New Zealand.
Scarratt scored a penalty either side of half-time before France caused a scare when Gaelle Hermet crossed.
Tournament favorites England won 13-7 which will likely mean they qualify for the quarter-finals as Group C winners.
Captain Sarah Hunter became England’s most capped player, making her 137th international appearance.
England, who They beat Fiji 84-19 In their opening game last week, they extended their winning streak to 27 matches and have not lost since July 2019.
But the tight scoreline in this game is a reality check for England fans, showing that professional teams from France and New Zealand will be tougher opposition in the latter stages of the tournament.
England are ahead despite France’s steely defence
The match was expected to be one of the tightest and highest quality of the World Cup and it did not disappoint as England’s clinical effort came up against a superb French defence.
The level of competition that France offered in the first half was evident in the statistics. England had 69% of the territory and 73% of possession, but only came away with 10 points as France played a grueling 127 tackles.
England manager Simon Middleton said he had discovered weaknesses in goal since Thomas Darracq joined France in charge in May, and the Red Roses looked determined to litter the French backfield with kicks.
Fly-half Zoe Harrison put in a composed performance that repeatedly tested France with her boot, often with balls falling.
Apart from that, it was a bright start from France, but the wind was taken out of their sails as two of their main players were forced off the field.
Scrum-half Sansus went off with a leg injury, then number eight Menager appeared to be knocked unconscious in a ruck.
Sansus was replaced by his partner Pauline Bourdon, while regular captain Hermet replaced Menager.
France continued to frustrate England’s forwards with their defense inside the 22 and the block was held on an Abbie Ward try.
Eventually, England went on the back foot and a clever move between Harrison and Scarratt sent him into the middle on 24 minutes.
France were penalized for a breakdown in front of the posts and Scarratt slotted home the three points to give England a 10-0 lead at the break.
More to follow.
France: Backgammon; Grisez, Filopon, Vernier, Boulard; Drouin, Sansus; Deshaye, Sochat, Joyeux, Ferer (captain), Fall, Escudero, Mayans, R Menager.
Replacements: Touye, Lindelauf, Khalfaoui, N’Diaye, Hermet, Bourdon, Queyroi, M Menager.
England: Kildune; Thompson, Scarratt, Rowland, MacDonald; Harrison, Infanta; Cornborough, Cokayne, Bern, Aldcroft, Ward, Matthews, M Packer, Hunter (capt).
Replacements: Powell, Botterman, Muir, O’Donnell, Cleall, L Packer, Aitchison, Dow.