Six Nations 2020: France 24-17 England

By Sports Desk February 02, 2020

New captain Charles Ollivon scored a try in each half as France started the Fabien Galthie era with a clinical 24-17 Six Nations defeat of sloppy England at Stade de France.

There was an air of optimism in Paris after Galthie picked a youthful squad for his first tournament as head coach and Les Bleus made a dream start to a new dawn in the Paris rain on Sunday.

Vincent Rattez scored his first Test try and Ollivon claimed a contentious second in a first half France ended with a 17-0 lead, England left to rue a string of handling errors in tricky conditions.

Ollivon went over again after the break and Romain Ntamack took his tally from the tee to nine points to put France 24-0 up after Galthie's men soaked up huge pressure with magnificent defence.

Jonny May set the nerves jangling with a brace of sublime solo tries and Owen Farrell booted seven points to earn a losing bonus point, but the Rugby World Cup runners-up - who lost Manu Tuilagi to injury early on - were made to pay for a lack of ruthlessness in the final third.

France were resolute and well drilled, showing the influence new defence coach Shaun Edwards already appears to have made, as they held on for a huge victory a year after letting a 16-0 half-time lead slip in their first game of the Six Nations against Wales.

Rattez - in for the injured Damian Penaud - raised the roof when he crossed just five minutes in after taking a clever inside pass from Ntamack, Teddy Thomas having cut England open with an initial incisive burst.

Ntamack added the extras and extended the lead with a penalty before Tuilagi's early departure gave England another headache.

Handling errors cost England and they were punished for not playing on when they were convinced Ollivon had knocked on before he raced away to touch down, the TMO awarding the try.

England continued to rack up the errors as they applied huge pressure either side of half-time but were unable to break through as resolute France defended for their lives. 

It was all England, but they were caught out again when Antoine Dupont scooted around the outside and whipped the ball inside for back-row Ollivon, who slid over for a double 15 minutes into the second half and Ntamack again added the extras.

Referee Nigel Owens warned both sides following a mass melee and England finally broke through when May showed a rapid turn of foot to get on the end of his own kick and dot down.

Wing May, who scored a hat-trick in a hammering of France last year, darted inside to go over for another brilliant score, but George Kruis was denied a third try when he charged through, so a Farrell penalty with the last kick of the game meant they would only head home with a solitary point.

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