England 19-16 France: Six Nations holders struggle to Twickenham win
Last Updated: 05/02/17 7:25pm
England registered a 15th successive Test victory to set a new national record in a 19-16 triumph over France but their unbeaten run under Eddie Jones was tested to the limit in a scruffy clash at Twickenham.
Jones was forced to summon the cavalry from the bench to finally break Les Bleus' resistance with Jack Nowell, James Haskell and Ben Te'o heavily involved in the decisive score that swept the Six Nations champions over the line.
The trio had just arrived on to the pitch but their fresh legs invigorated England with Te'o particularly effective, running hard and straight until picking a strong line to score the decisive try in the 71st minute.
When replacement prop Rabah Slimani crashed over in the 60th minute, France led 16-12 and a first Six Nations win at Twickenham since 2005 looked a distinct possibility until Jones emptied the bench.
The introduction of Te'o, along with James Haskell, saw England give up on subtlety and instead match France's brute force. Te'o crashed over within two minutes of his introduction following a sustained spell of England pressure.
Try of the match
France were as inconsistent as ever but they did produce an excellent passage of play for the opening try.
Les Bleus charged downfield with Louis Picamoles at the forefront of the attack and, playing advantage, offloads from Sebastien Vahaamahina and Kevin Gourdon sent Slimani over.
There were few positives from a forgettable contest. England improved in the second half, thanks largely to a host of changes, but Jones will be hoping for a vastly-improved performance in Wales next weekend.
Jones cut a frustrated figure for much of the match as a combination of indiscipline from his team and referee Angus Gardner's trigger-happy whistle contributed to a poor and nervy opening period.
Man of the match poll
Stat of the match
10: Number of line breaks made by France, twice as many as England
England head coach Eddie Jones: "It is always good to win when you do not play well, and we did not play well," Jones said. "I take full responsibility for the performance.
"I did not prepare the team well enough. I got some things wrong and I have got a lot of homework to do over the weekend. I will make sure the team plays much better against Wales.
"I thought we were awful, but I thought we were always going to win the game and that is what I like about these boys. They have got a never-say-die attitude."
England captain Dylan Hartley: "Ben Te'o and James Haskell came on and gave us a good bit going forward at the end there so unbelievable impact from our subs.
"We dug in, we found a way and we'll take something from that. But, look, week one of the tournament, we will take that win but there's plenty to work on.
"We need to be a bit more clinical with the ball in hand and probably not so passive in defence."