Three things key to England's 6Nations win over France

London (AFP) –


England's thrilling 23-20 win over France in the Six Nations clash on Saturday dashed France's hopes of their first win at Twickenham since 2005 and ended dreams of a Grand Slam.

AFP Sport picks out three things key to the match:

Jalibert the puppet master

Fabien Galthie's decision to stick with Matthieu Jalibert at fly-half even with the return of Romain Ntamack paid off and the latter could be spending more time warming the bench.

Scrum-half Antoine Dupont may have scored a try inside two minutes but it was Jalibert who largely ran the show.

The 22-year-old set up Damian Penaud's try with a lovely floated pass, came close to scoring one of his own and kicked impeccably.

His mazy runs, one from just outside his 22 to halfway and another in the second-half which set up superb field position showed he is far more than just a provider for the outside backs.

He was not found wanting in defence as he got back to prevent Anthony Watson from collecting his chip ahead and touch down.

Elementary Watson

Eddie Jones said that Anthony Watson had "matured very nicely, like a nice Pinotage," part of that, the Australian, said was that the winger had become a father.

The Bath wing himself has said he is no longer chasing fame and he backed up both his words and those of Jones with a man-of-the match performance on his 50th Test appearance for his country.

The 27-year-old rebounded after being outfoxed by Dupont for the early French try.

Watson ran in his 22nd Test try and came close to adding his 23rd with a dazzling run, coming inside off his right wing and then chipping ahead only for Jalibert to deny him.

In defence too, Watson came up trumps, keeping opposite number Teddy Thomas largely quiet. He also forced a turnover late in the first-half wrapping himself round Brice Dulin and provoking the full-back into fumbling the ball.

He had a quieter second-half, but appropriately it was the man of the match who kicked the ball into touch to seal the victory.

French rustiness or familiar failing?

France's Achilles heel under Fabien Galthie has been a tendency to wane in the final quarter of matches.

The way they faded in the England game might also be because they have not played for a month due to the covid outbreak in their camp.

If so, the Irish will be encouraged when they face a Scotland side on Sunday who also have not played for a month.

France started in blistering fashion but they looked a tired side in the second-half as England's pace and power told.

France's relative lack of experience required someone to pull them together and calm them down but there was no one of that ilk to do so.

Tellingly, the French never had the ball in hand in their opponent's 22 in the second-half.

Dupont especially seemed to fade.His knock on as France pressed in the dying seconds was emblematic of his and the team's second-half.