France 12-24 England: Red Roses clinch fourth Six Nations title in a row and Grand Slam in Bayonne
Tries from Sarah Bern (two), Abbie Ward, in addition to nine points via boot of Emily Scarratt, saw England wrap up 2022 Six Nations Grand Slam triumph; Red Roses equal own record of 23 victories in a row; triumph is England's fourth Six Nations title in a row
Last Updated: 01/05/22 7:21am
England secured a fourth Six Nations title in a row courtesy of a hard-fought 24-12 victory over France in Bayonne, clinching with it a Grand Slam success.
Despite going behind to an early Romane Menager try, England replied with tries through Sarah Bern (two) and Abbie Ward - the latter also putting in a superb defensive lineout performance.
France pushed England hard thereafter, but could not add to the scoreboard, with Red Roses fly-half Zoe Harrison sin-binned for repeated team infringements.
Emily Scarratt - skipper on the day with Sarah Hunter out injured - kicked flawlessly off the tee too, adding three conversions and a penalty.
France 12-24 England - Score summary
England - Tries: Bern (12, 27), Ward (17). Cons: Scarratt (13, 18, 28). Pens: Scarratt (60). France - Tries: Menager (4), Deshaye (67). Cons: Drouin (5).
France did grab a second try through prop Annaelle Deshayes with 13 minutes remaining, but it proved too late.
England's 10th successive triumph over their world No 3-ranked opponents confirms their position as favourites for the World Cup in New Zealand later this year.
France, boosted by the return from injury of fly-half Caroline Drouin, got off to best possible start, capitalising on a knock-on by England fly-half Zoe Harrison to work No 8 Menager over for the game's first try after just three minutes.
Drouin added the conversion but England struck back eight minutes later when Bern forced her way over for her first try, with Scarratt landing the extras.
The Red Roses took full advantage of France's indiscipline and malfunctioning lineout to pile on the pressure and it paid off after 16 minutes when second rower Ward profited from another rampant rolling maul to claim their second try.
The French struggled to get out of their own half and fell further behind after 26 minutes when Bern peeled off a rolling maul to grab her second try and Scarratt kicked her third conversion to make it 21-7.
The home side stemmed the tide but came up against a determined England defence, which managed to hold scrum-half Laure Sansus up over the line.
England were temporarily reduced to 14 players three minutes into the second half when Harrison was shown a yellow card for a deliberate knock-on, but they redoubled their efforts to preserve their lead with the fly-half in the sin bin.
The French then had centre Maelle Filopon sent to the bin, also for a deliberate knock-on, an offence which enabled Scarratt to extend England's lead to 24-7 with a penalty.
Scarratt pulled off a try-saving tackle on replacement Emilie Boulard to snuff out any threat of a fightback, although prop Deshayes did claim a consolation try after 66 minutes.