24-21 in the Stade de France on Saturday night to clinch the Six Nations Championship and a glorious Grand Slam.But they had to survive a brave late
rally from Sir Clive Woodward's world champions to complete a clean sweep of Europe's top rugby nations.
The hosts led 21-3 at the break but England hit back through tries from Ben Cohen and Josh Lewsey.It looked briefly as though the visitors would get
out of jail, but France had done just enough.They scored two tries through Dimitri Yachvili and Imanol Harinordoquy, while Yachvili also contributed
14 points with the boot.Olly Barkley kicked 11 points for England, but it was not enough to prevent France claiming their fourth Grand Slam in the
past eight years.
Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili both scored first-half
tries as the home side cruised into a 21-3 interval lead.But second-half tries from Ben Cohen and Josh Lewsey brought the visitors to within a whisker
of an amazing comeback.France broke the deadlock after a scoreless first 20 minutes when Yachvili booted his first penalty.And their lead soon became
8-0 when Harinordoquy scored the first try of the evening.The England defence was stretched flat across the pitch as Yachvili aimed a testing kick to
the corner.It dropped perfectly just over the England line, and an unmarked Harinordoquy touched down.Two more Yachvili penalties made it 14-0 before
Olly Barkley finally got England on the board with a successful kick of his own.Any hopes the visitors had of going into the interval in touch were
blown apart a minute before half-time when Yachvili struck with a superb opportunist try.
Barkley and Yachvili exchanged penalties early in the second half before England
finally crossed the French line when Mike Catt, on for the out-of-sorts Will Greenwood, looped a fine long pass to Cohen, who had a clear run to the
line.France soon added a fourth Yachvili penalty and they become increasingly dominant, pinning England back in their own half giving the English pack
a torrid time.It looked as though England were dead and buried but they came to life in the last 10 minutes and cut the gap to just three points as
Barkley kicked a penalty and converted Lewsey's try.France began to look increasingly worried but time was against England and in the end their
revival fell just short, despite a frantic finale France took the title and the Grand Slam.
J Robinson (Sale), J Lewsey (Wasps), W Greenwood (Quins), M Tindall (Bath), B Cohen (Saints), O Barkley (Bath), M Dawson (Saints), T
Woodman (Gloucester), S Thompson (Saints), P Vickery (Gloucester), D Grewcock (Bath), B Kay (Leicester), J Worsley (Wasps), R Hill (Saracens), L
Dallaglio (Wasps, capt).
M Regan (Leeds), J White (Leicester), S Borthwick (Bath), M Corry (Leicester), A Gomarsall (Gloucester), M Catt (Bath), J
Simpson-Daniel ( Gloucester).
N Brusque (Biarritz); P Elhorga (Agen), Y Jauzion (Stade Toulousain), D Traille (Pau), C Dominici (Stade Francais); F Michalak (Stade
Toulousain), D Yachvili (Biarritz); I Harinordoquy (Pau), O Magne (Montferrand), S Betsen (Biarritz), P Pape (Bourgoin), F Pelous (Stade Toulousain,
capt), P De Villiers (Stade Francais), W Servat (Stade Toulousain), S Marconnet (Stade Francais).
Y Bru (Stade Toulousain), JJ Crenca (Agen), D Auradou (Stade Francais), T Lievremont (Biarritz), P Mignoni (Montferrand), J
Peyrelongue (Biarritz), C Poitrenaud (Biarritz).