sport

England edge to win over France

England maintained their 100% record in the Six Nations with a 23-13 victory over France at Twickenham on Saturday.

Manu Tuilagi's try and six penalties - four from Owen Farrell and two to clinch the result by his replacement Toby Flood late one - was enough to keep England's title challenge on course and send France to a third defeat in this year's competition.

It was a hard-fought contest and France - who had lost to Italy and Wales in their opening two matches - produced a much-improved display, including a solo try from Wesley Fofana.

But Farrell's efficiency with the boot ensured England were able to stay in touch during the first half and Stuart Lancaster's men took charge after the break to move within two wins of a first grand slam since 2003.

Farrell and Morgan Parra exchanged penalties during the first six minutes as both packs tore into each other with obvious relish.

With Parra controlling things from scrum-half, France immediately looked a better organised unit than in previous rounds and their aggression at the breakdown ensured England were denied quick ball.

England's best try-scoring chance of the first half came in the 26th minute when Farrell overhit his chip towards Chris Ashton on the right wing, albeit safe in the knowledge the referee was playing advantage for an earlier penalty.

Farrell duly added those three points but France responded immediately with the opening try, Fofana evading four potential tacklers with some delightful footwork to go over in the corner after the ball had been moved swiftly from right to left.

Parra added the conversion before Farrell reduced England's deficit to 10-9 on 33 minutes with his third penalty.

France had the chance to pad their advantage but Parra scuffed penalty chances either side of half-time.

England were back in front when Thierry Dusautoir pulled down a rolling maul and Farrell landed his fourth successful kick, quickly followed by Tuilagi's try.

A loose ball was hacked out of a French ruck and dropped straight to the Leicester centre, who was able to cruise over in the left corner.

Farrell failed with the conversion attempt, then appeared to hurt his groin while sending up a high kick. He limped on, missing a penalty making way for Flood.

Parra handed over kicking duties to Frederick Michalak, on for Francois Trinh-Duc at stand-off, and he was able to land a penalty in the 58th-minute to trim England's lead to 17-13.

But France, despite a raft of replacements, were fading fast and Flood was able to add a couple of late penalties to seal England's victory.