Six Nations: England 55-35 France

England came to within six points of the Six Nations title with an incredible 55-35 victory over France but were pipped by Ireland who had earlier defeated Scotland 40-10.

In what was an open game from start to finish, with 90 points scored including twelve tries.

Ben Youngs was among the stand-out performers as England came excruciatingly close to taking the championship.

The match was the final act of an inspiring day of rugby that started with Wales’ 61-20 win over Italy in Rome.

It was the ideal start for Stuart Lancaster’s men, who scored the opening try in the second minute as scrum-half Ben Youngs went over to finish off a flowing England move.

Having converted that try George Ford had the chance to extend England’s lead on six minutes but couldn’t kick his penalty from 47 metres.

Jules Plisson succeeded where Ford failed and converted a penalty five minutes later to reduce the arrears, and moments later the visitors gained the lead.

Sebastian Tillous-Borde took advantage of and Courtney Lawes fumble and ran through to score a try against the early run of play and silence Twickenham, though Plisson’s failure to convert gave England some consolation.

That try initiated a spell of French dominance and English floundering as Noa Nakaitaci scored the second try in the space of a few minutes.

The France wing was adjudged controversially to have grounded the ball before his foot went out of play by Welsh referee Nigel Owens, to the despair of English fans.

England were once again left of as Plisson continued his mixed form with the boot in failing to kick a penalty soon after.

Owens then made another big call, deciding not to punish Courtney Lawes for a late tackle on Plisson or Yoann Maestri for his remonstrations.

Plisson seemingly shaken then proceeded to miss another penalty on 29 minutes and yet again provide England with a let-off.

They took advantage of this, Anthony Watson getting on the end of a scrappy run of play to score a try that was approved by the busy TMO and then impressively converted by Ford.

And the championship looked very much on as England scored a third converted try on 36 minutes, Ben Youngs scoring again by getting on the end of a breakaway.

England headed into half time at 27-15 as Ford scored a final penalty on the stroke of Owens’ whistle.

The topsy-turvy nature of the first half returned at the start of the second, France’s Maxime Mermoz going over after just three minutes of the restart to reduce the England lead to five points.

And so it continued, George Ford went over the try-line next, getting on the end of the impressive Youngs’ pass to score four minutes after the Mermoz try.

After Rory Kockott added a French penalty, Jack Nowell scored England’s fifth try of the game with 25 minutes of the game left to give England a 16-point lead and real hope.

Just as England had some momentum, James Haskell went in with a football-style sliding tackle and was sin-binned as a result.

Vincent Debaty finished a 90 metre run to score the game’s ninth try and take advantage of Haskell’s yellow and once again peg back England.

Billy Vunipola then made it an incredible try number ten going over for England after 63 minutes, but Benjamin Kayser responded with a score of his own minutes later to make the score an amazing 48-35 with 15 minutes left.

And it was soon 55-35 with five minutes left as Nowell scored his second try of the day, the conversion from the fantastic Ford putting England within a try of the title.

Despite their late pressure they couldn’t get the final score that would have seen them claim their first Six Nations title since 2012.

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