Yoann Huget scored a brilliant try as France battered England, then shut up shop as the visitors came back into contention late in the game. Key substitutions gave England heart and direction, as they pulled the score back to 25-20, but it was too little too late.
England looked good at home last weekend but in Paris they were blown off the park by a more determined, and seemingly capable, French outfit that got the better up front, took their chances, and were marshalled by the old head of Frederic Michalak.
While England did launch a comeback late in the match, and at the final whistle had a chance of snatching an unlikely win, France were clearly the superior side on the day.
“We gave away penalties and our discipline was shocking,” said skipper Chris Robshaw. “Whether it was rust, or nerves, it wasn’t good enough. Credit to France, they put us under pressure and made us make mistakes.
“We can’t give teams like France and other quality sides head starts like we did. We’ll look long and hard at ourselves, because we let ourselves down in the first half. We played well in phases but you can’t wait for 40 minutes to do that.”
Not a whole lot should be read into those final ten minutes, and France will be pleased with their performance in front of their home crowd, following last week’s loss.
England coach Stuart Lancaster has some tough decisions to make soon after replacements, such Danny Cipriani, came off the bench and showed up those that started.
“The bench made a difference. It upped the energy levels and we scored some good tries. I won’t gloss over what went on before that, because it was too little too late,” he said.
“There are a few players who have given me food for thought, those guys who came on and gave us the energy we needed and made a difference. I need to have a sleep on this game and think about my final squad. We’re two weeks away from playing Ireland and four weeks away from Fiji in the World Cup and we’ll expect a reaction next time.”