FRANCE CENTRE WESLEY FOFANA lit up a tense affair at Twickenham but his try was the only highlight of a 23-13 defeat to England.
The French led 10-9 at the break thanks to Fofana’s 60-metre dash, beating four English tackles in the process, and five points from the boot of recalled scrum-half Morgan Parra.
Stuart Lancaster’s men battled back in the second-half and Owen Farrell restored the lead with a penalty.
Manu Tuilagi, recalled in place of Billy Twelvetrees, snapped up a bobbling, breaking ball to outpace Vincent Clerc to the corner and make it 17-10.
Farrell missed the conversion and a later penalty but his replacement, Toby Flood, added two penalties in the closing stages to confirm the win.
France, looking for their first win of the campaign, fell behind to an Farrell penalty but Parra soon levelled the scores.
The French showed considerable fight and Francois Trinh-Duc and Yoann Huget looked good in attack in a game played out in ideal conditions for attacking rugby.
England, the only team that remain unbeaten in this year’s championship, went close to a try before Farrell’s penalty made it 6-3.
The home side had the advantage but Farrell’s chip could not find Chris Ashton in the right-hand corner. The placed kick was more successful.
Fofana, moved back into his favoured slot at inside centre [from the wing], exploded into life in the centre of the pitch to evade Courtney Lawes, Ashton, Farrell and Ashton again to dot down for a superb try.
Parra added the extras but missed a penalty attempt from near the halfway line in the half’s final piece of action.
England deserved the win on account of their battling effort after the break. The home crowd got to cheer a try, too, as Tuilagi grasped a ball, kicked clear at a French breakdown, at his ankles and dart over in the lefthand corner.
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Lancaster’s side now have three wins from three and have Italy at home next time out. The Grand Slam is very much a reality.
Chris Robshaw was named man of the match for the second match running and admitted to the BBC that England were ‘slow out of the blocks’ but deserved credit for the fight shown after the break.