England edge France to win women's Six Nations
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London (AFP) – Champions England have beaten France 10-6 in the women's Six Nations final at the Twickenham Stoop. No.8 Poppy Cleall scored the only try of the match for the hosts as they won a third successive Six Nations title in what was their eighth successive victory over France.
The Red Roses were only 7-6 ahead with barely a minute left on the clock when Emily Scarratt sealed victory with a penalty.
England and France are in the same group in next year's Covid-19 delayed Women's Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.
The coronavirus pandemic meant that instead of all six teams playing each other, they were split into two pools of three.
England and France, long the two leading women's teams in Europe, topped their respective groups to win through to the final.
France had the upper hand at the scrum in the early stages but were unable to make their set-piece and territorial dominance count.
But England captain Scarratt missed two early penalty chances, including a relatively simple chance from close range, and the match was still deadlocked at 0-0 after 20 minutes.
The centre left the field soon afterwards for what appeared to be a head injury assessment.
France had a try disallowed for a forward pass and from the ensuing penalty, fly-half Caroline Drouin saw her kick fade away in the breeze.
But the final minute before the break saw England lead 7-0.
Cleall powered away from a scrum and then, after a ruck near the opposition line, she forced her way over for a try. Scarratt, back on the field, converted.
France then forced a scrum penalty early in the second half but Drouin was off target again.
Moments later, England infringed again and this time Drouin kicked a penalty to reduce the hosts' lead to 7-3.
Both sides, who had overwhelmed their previous opponents this tournament, made several basic handling errors as the match headed into the final quarter.
Cleall went off injured and with some 10 minutes left, France kicked a penalty to touch for an attacking line-out.
But substitute Sarah Hunter, England's regular captain, then helped force a turnover.
France, however, with seven minutes left won a kickable penalty and Drouin's kick went in off the post to reduce England's lead to just one point but Scarratt's effort made sure of the title.
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