The Borneo Post (Sabah)

Machenaud steers France past England, hands Six Nations to Ireland


PARIS: Maxime Machenaud steered France to a dour 2216 victory over England on Saturday, a result that saw Ireland crowned Six Nations champions.

England went into the game knowing that only a bonuspoint victory would prevent the Irish, with four wins from four after an earlier 28-8 triumph over Scotland, winning the championsh­ip.

But Eddie Jones’ team didn’t play like a side needing to score four tries to force a championsh­ip decider in a Twickenham head-to-head next week.

“While we’re all disappoint­ed, we’re all gutted, we’ve got to make sure we learn from it and make sure we’re stronger next time we play,” Jones told the BBC.

“It’s a learning period for us. We’re struggling with our game a little bit and we’re learning from these games. It’s an important period for us.”

France captain Guilhem Guirado said the result was just rewards for their hard work and a sign of the team’s unity, having bounced back from two opening tournament defeats.

“I think 80,000 people came tonight, it’s a really emotional feeling because it’s always nice to beat England,” Guirado told French TV.

“France has gone through a tough time,” added head coach Jacques Brunel. “I believe we can come very close to the best.

“Against both Ireland (lost 15-13 in the last minute) and England, we’ve shown we can go up against them and we will continue to do so.”

There was a distinct lack of English penetratio­n under a stifling French defence, the much-hyped George Ford-Owen Farrell axis was ineffectua­l and there were a myriad of mistakes in key areas.

A tight opening half was a nervy affair littered with infringeme­nts, be they by France at the scrum or England at the breakdown.

The French defence was solid, with giant centre Mathieu Bastareaud a real handful in the loose, and England’s blunt-looking attack was unable to stretch the home side wide.

Farrell opened the scoring with a 38-metre penalty after Rabah Slimani was pinged by South African referee Jaco Peyper for collapsing a scrum.

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