England got their Six Nations campaign back on track with a 31-19 bonus-point victory over reigning world U20 champions France at Sandy Park.
Following last weekend's loss to Ireland, England scored five tries to defeat the current Six Nations champions. England led 24-12 at the break with tries from Ollie Sleightholme, Tom Willis, Olly Adkins as well as a penalty try and Marcus Smith’s conversions, while France replied through Jordan Joseph and Julien Delbouis scores as well as a conversion from Louis Carbonel.
England were awarded a second penalty try after a driving maul was collapsed by France as their forward dominance continued after the break. That dominance resulted in a second yellow card for scrum infringement with Akhim Bouzhir sent to the bin.
France was then awarded a penalty try themselves with six minutes remaining with Joel Kpoku sent to the sin bin for collapsing a maul close to England's try line. The visitors thought they had secured both a try scoring and a losing bonus point when they crossed the line in the final play of the match but the try was ruled out for obstruction and the game finished 31-19 in England's favour.
England Head Coach Steve Bates said: “It was a performance that reflected the circumstances we were in. “We were desperately keen to win, we’ve probably got more to our game than you probably saw today but I think the win was the important thing and it gets us back on track. There was a bit of nervousness but the pack played extremely well but we know we can defend better and our discipline must be better. Overall though it was an important victory.
“The performance of the pack gave us a huge psychological advantage throughout, every scrum we had them under massive pressure and that gave us huge momentum and allowed us to also score a couple of tries. We are right back in the tournament though and we will go on from here.”
England – Tries: Sleightholme, penalty try, Willis, Adkins, penalty try Conversion: Smith
France – Tries: Joseph, Delbouis, penalty try Conversion: Carbonel Pens: