Autumn Nations Cup final: England beat France 22-19 in extra-time
Owen Farrell kicked the winning penalty in the second stanza of extra time as England battled past a determined France to lift the Autumn Nations Cup at Twickenham on Sunday
Last Updated: 06/12/20 9:23pm
England battled to a 22-19 win over France in extra-time to win the inaugural Autumn Nations Cup in front of 2,000 fans at Twickenham on Sunday.
England's 813 caps were supposed to be too strong for Les Bleus' combined 68, but France were far from overawed and pushed Eddie Jones' side all the way and were unlucky not to claim a famous win.
A Brice Dulin try converted by Matthieu Jalibert, plus four penalties, gave France a 19-12 lead heading into the final minute.
However, a converted Luke Cowan-Dickie try in the 80th minute took the game into sudden death.
England captain Farrell missed his fourth penalty attempt early in the first period of extra-time as the ball rattled off the posts, but he was on target in the second for the win.
Having bullied their way through the autumn, using their snarling pack to submit Italy, Georgia, Ireland and Wales, the Six Nations champions hit a blue wall as France faced them down at every turn.
Skilfully directed by Jalibert, Les Bleus showed more intent in attack for an opening half-hour they controlled, and when it became time to defend, they rolled up their sleeves with an attitude that will have delighted Shaun Edwards.
It was especially impressive from the visitors given the agreement struck between France and their clubs meant head coach Fabien Galthie was without 25 front-line internationals.
Arrayed against them in the greatest mismatch in experience in Test history was England's most seasoned line-up of all time, including 13 who featured in last year's Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa.
Even France team manager Raphael Ibanez understood why the final had been billed as a "farce", yet right from the start it was clear the visitors were relishing the chance to stage one of the biggest upsets in the rivals' long history.
England benefited from the whistle of referee Andrew Brace early on as Farrell landed a penalty, but in the fifth minute they were carved open by a brilliant run from Jalibert.
Taking advantage of broken play originating from a chaotic line-out, Jalibert spied a half gap and seized the opportunity by shrugging off a tackle by Jamie George and evading Farrell before sending Dulin over for a slick try.
Jalibert's conversion found the mark before Elliot Daly replied with a penalty, but it was far more than a game conducted from the kicking tee as the fast pace swept play from end to end.
France strung phases together and were at their most dangerous as they used short passes to create gaps, with Jalibert expertly pulling the strings.
Two successful penalties from the Bordeaux fly-half extended the lead to 13-6 and when it was time to defend they showed remarkable resilience to withstand a sustained barrage on their line.
Few teams have proved capable of stopping England's forwards when pounding the whitewash, but France tackled relentlessly until Ellis Genge knocked on.
Daly stepped his way into a dangerous position and Jonny May almost burst free as England started the second half with a flourish, ending a strong spell with a Farrell penalty.
Even limited to 2,000, the crowed voiced their distaste for a lengthy spell of kicking but, when France looked to break free, Jalibert's pass to Alivereti Raka landed on the wing's feet.
Ford and Daly combined to set up a half chance for Anthony Watson as play unfolded in the opposition half with increasing regularity.
As Farrell floundered in front of the posts, replacement fly-half Carbonel was on target until Farrell finally readjusted his sights.
But Carbonel rifled over his second after an explosive run by Raka set up field position.
With 29 seconds left on the clock, however, replacement hooker Cowan-Dickie swept England over the line for a try which Farrell converted, setting up the nail-biting conclusion.