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England finish strongly to edge France 19-16 in Six Nations opener

England's Owen Farrell celebrates with team mates after the game

By Mitch Phillips

England overcame a poor first half to grind down France for a 19-16 victory to open the defence of their Six Nations title on Saturday, setting a national record of 15 successive victories in the process.

England were lucky to be level at 9-9 at halftime and France would have been frustrated that their livelier showing failed to produce a try in the opening 40 minutes.

England were transformed after the break but, after edging ahead with another Owen Farrell penalty, a rare French foray produced the first try of the game for replacement prop Rabah Slimani after an hour.

England’s replacements then poured on to bring a new energy, with one of them, centre Ben Te’o, scoring the decisive try which Farrell converted to restore the lead with ten minutes to go.

The current side had shared the record of 14 successive victories with Clive Woodward’s team in 2002-03.

 

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