Red Roses win Grand Slam in Bayonne

Red Roses win Grand Slam in Bayonne

The Red Roses claimed a Six Nations Grand Slam after beating France 24-12 in Bayonne.


It marks their fourth consecutive Six Nations title, and they are now unbeaten in 23 matches, equalling the longest ever winning run by an England team.

France started the match brightly, and shocked the visitors inside the opening four minutes. A quick tap penalty from scrum half Laure Sansus provided immediate momentum close to England's line, and a delayed pass to the onrushing Romane Ménager saw the number eight go over untouched. The effort was converted by Caroline Drouin.

Undeterred, England stuck to their game plan, kicking deep into French territory, forcing penalties and opting for lineouts. It soon paid off as they took control of the Test through a familiar weapon - the rolling maul. 

Sarah Bern was the benefactor at the back of England's first maul score, which came on the 11-minute mark, and vice captain Abbie Ward bagged the second in similar circumstances moments later. France's frustration was clear to see after the third - another courtesy of Bern - as they struggled to deal with the strong English pack. Emily Scarratt successfully converted all three to make it 21-7. 

France battled back as half time approached, spurred on by a partisan crowd, and bombarded the visitor's line with wave after wave of attack, but Simon Middelton's charges held firm with an incredible defensive display lasting seven minutes, and they took a 14 point lead into the break. 

Stats outlined how competitive the opening 40 had been: England made 68 more metres, 25 more carries and boasted 59% possession, but France beat more defenders and caused more turnovers. 

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