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As it happened: England v France

Just when you thought you had seen all of the shocks that a Saturday morning could produce, along came England and France. Here’s the minute-by-minute report.

More rugby? Why not? We went minute-by-minute for this morning’s second World Cup quarter-final: England v France.

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FT: England 12-19 France

For Ireland, the World Cup dream is over. For England, France and their supporters, it is still very much alive. For the next 80 minutes at least.

Playing for the right to meet Wales in a World Cup semi-final, it’s England v France, live from Eden Park in Auckland. Don’t go anywhere.

Here are your teams.

England: Foden; Ashton, Tuilagi, Flood, Cueto; Wilkinson, Youngs; Stevens, Thompson, Cole; Deacon, Palmer; Croft, Moody, Easter.

France: Medard; Clerc, Rougerie, Mermoz, Palisson; Parra, Yachvili; Poux, Servat, Mas; Pape, Nallet; Dusautoir, Bonnaire, Harinordoquy.

So, no Mike Tindall for England means that Toby Flood and Jonny Wilkinson line out in the same starting XV.

Meanwhile, Marc Lièvremont has decided to play a scrum-half at number 10. Why? He’s Marc Lièvremont, why the hell not?

Of course, England fans will be hoping to see a repeat of this semi-final performance from 2003.

The teams are out on the pitch and we’ll have the anthems presently.

I have to say, I half fancy France to cause a bit of an upset here. Inconsistent and infuriating as they are, you can never write them off, can you?

I might be the first person to ever say this, but I love La Marseillaise.

Steve Walsh is our match referee in Auckland. Jonny Wilkinson gets us underway. If this is half as good a game as this morning’s one was, it’ll be a beaut.

A dangerous-looking grubber by Ben Foden threatens to release Chris Ashton, but Yachvili scrambles across to boot in into touch.

Ouch. Manu Tuilagi is not a small man, as Morgan Parra just found out in the most painful of manners. The big England centre clobbers him with a high tackle, but they’re all back on their feet and ok.

England have started the better of the two, but there’s little to choose between them in these opening minutes.

Toby Flood is pinged by Steve Walsh for not releasing in the tackle. Here’s a chance for France to open the scoring…

PENALTY! (Yachvili, 11′) No bother for the scrum-half who nails the kick at goal from all of 50 metres. If my stats are correct, he’s now 14/18 with the boot (penalties and conversions) at this World Cup. Not bad considering the problems most have been having. England 0-3 France

Fast, flowing rugby by France takes them deep into English territory before Palisson is hauled into touch. Yachvili is being allowed to move the ball very quickly and that will definitely cause problems for England.

And now France have the upper hand in the scrum as well. Nicolas Mas is on top of Matt Stevens who slips his bind and Yachvili will have a chance to extend France’s lead with his boot.

PENALTY! (Yachvili, 16′) And he makes no mistake, slotting straight between the posts. It’s perfectly still in Auckland, couldn’t be more different from the wind-swept conditions in Wellington this morning. England 0-6 France

MISSED PENALTY! (Yachvili, 18′) A let-off for England, who are called out for another infringement at the breakdown; they really need to cut these silly penalties out. They get away with this one, however, as Yachvili’s effort drops just wide.

TRY! (Clerc, 22′) Oh dear, oh dear. That is some truly abysmal tackling by England. The ball is pinched from a English line-out and, after a few phases, Vincent Clerc takes a great line and breaks. Not only does he step into a huge gap between Wilkinson and Ashton, but he also manages to ghost past Ben Foden as if he isn’t there. Bizarre mistake by the full-back.

The conversion is missed by Yachvili. England 0-11 France

My thoughts exactly.

England look to Manu Tuilagi to spark a revival and he very nearly does it by charging straight up the middle, brushing off three French tacklers as if they’re not even there.

Tuilagi v Clerc — shaping up to be a right ding-dong battle.

Lynne Cameron/PA Wire/Press Association Images

TRY! (Medard, 30′) Wow, France have decided to show up. You know, the real France, the one who can beat anybody in the world on their day.

They manage to set a powerful maul which takes them to within yards of the line, but it’s the lightning-quick ball from Yachvili which makes the key difference. He fires out to Palisson who looks like he’s about to go over in the corner but thinks better of it, cleverly switching back inside to Medard on his shoulder who collects and powers over.

No conversion again for Yachvili but France are almost out of reach regardless. Almost. England 0-16 France

Less than five minutes to go until the break. England could do with some points — any points — just to get on the board.

I don’t know about you but there is a whole lot of schadenfreude in my Twitter timeline at the moment. It seems like the only thing to soothe Irish heartbreak is English humiliation. Who would’ve thought it?

A warning shot by the English backs who remind us just how lethal they can be. It’s Wilkinson’s link-up with Nick Easter which allows Toby Flood to free Chris Ashton. A nation full of French rugby fans (that’s France I’m talking about, not Ireland) holds its breath but Cueto knocks it on as he tries to wriggle free.

HALF TIME: England 0-16 France

I’ll be back with some thoughts on the first half soon, I just need to go make a cup of coffee first. It has been a long morning.

Over on Facebook, Mike Gormley has offered his analysis of the first half.

If Ireland didn’t leave the dressing room then England didn’t even get off the team bus.

He’s not wrong.

England have just re-emerged for the second half. France, on the other hand, have been out there for three or four minutes, jogging and getting fired up ahead of the second half. No resting on their laurels, it would seem.

We’re back underway and, almost immediately, Toby Flood knocks the ball on.

This game isn’t beyond England yet, but it would greatly help their cause if they showed up and started to play a bit.

Better from England in the opening minutes of this second half but again, they’re stripped of any sort of threat by a knock-on. The front row holds up well against the head in the scrum which should give them some encouragement.

An early change for Johno, and it’s a strange one. Courtney Lawes comes on to replace Tom Croft at blindside flanker, while a natural back-row in James Haskell remains in his trackie on the bench. I’m not quite sure what that’s all about.

The French defensive line is more than equal to England’s efforts at the moment. The sheer effort of trying to turn this game around looks to have left England exhausted already; about four of the white jerseys are receiving treatment during a break in play.

France wheel an English scrum 90 degrees. The self-belief is flowing through their pack at the moment. One more try will probably wrap this up.

Interesting if true. Are France playing well because of Lievremont or in spite of him?

TRY! (Foden, 55′) Game on, kids. This one is predominantly Ben Youngs’s doing. He takes a quick tap penalty and hares off towards the French line. Pop to Foden who cuts back inside Rougerie and makes up for his earlier mistake by going over underneath the posts.

Wilkinson wastes no time in chipping over the conversion. Are we in for an interesting finale? England 7-16 France

In stark contrast to the first 55 minutes or so, England now look like they’re not going to go down without a fight. Probably don’t want to be labelled as “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” in the morning’s papers…

Trinh-Duc and Clerc surge forward menacingly inside the French 22, but it’s knocked on in the tackle. An opportunity wasted, as Johno shuffles his deck by bringing on Haskell, Stevens, Wigglesworth and Banahan. Flood in at out-half with Banahan going in at 12.

England’s composure deserts them at the key moment. They’re stretching the French defence and stretching and stretching, but Flood opts for a 50-50 offload to, em, nobody rather than taking the ball to ground and allowing his support to regroup. Shame.

Twelve minutes on the clock as England try to run it out of their own 22 before knocking it on. Poor decision-making there by the English, they’re panicking.

This brought a rare smile to my face this morning.

The French forwards pick and go five metres from the English line. A drop-goal would leave England needing two tries…

DROP GOAL! (Trinh-Duc, 72′) It was the obvious option and the execution was perfect. England 7-19 France

I couldn’t let the morning pass without bringing your attention to Marc Lievremont’s magnificent ronnie. Magnificent.

Christophe Ena/AP/Press Association Images

Five minutes to play. Flood kicks a penalty right into the corner…

But Bonnaire comes out of nowhere to rob the ball in the lineout. Another opportunity wasted for England.

We’re going upstairs to the TMO, but I’m almost certain that Mark Cueto has given England a lifeline. He had to wrestle himself free of Clerc’s despairing tackle in the in-goal area but he grounded it eventually.

TRY! (Cueto, 77′) After what seems like an absolute eternity, the TMO awards the try. Flood misses the conversion which means that England have just less than three minutes to score a converted try and force a draw. England 12-19 France

Two minutes. England have the ball, but they’re just outside their own 22.

Tuilagi is bundled into touch by Palisson and, with 90 seconds on the clock, that could finally be that.

Nallet claims the line out authoritatively. A bit of French control here and the game is up.

France have a penalty as the clock ticks over 80. Barring a disaster from Parra here, it is France who will play Wales next Saturday morning.

MISSED PENALTY! (Parra, 80′) Parra’s penalty crashes off the upright and drops dead. Game over – England are out.

FULL TIME: England 12-19 France

Oh me, oh my. Who expected that? France — the same France who lost to New Zealand AND to Tonga — are into the final four of the World Cup. Incredible.

That’s all I’ve got for you. It has been a long morning and I don’t think it’s unfair to say that those two results were not the results we expected.

I’ll be back at the crack of dawn tomorrow morning as Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and Argentina stake their respective claims to join France and Wales in the final four. See you then.

As it happened: Ireland v Wales

Retrospective: England and France’s World Cup history

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