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France 33-31 England: Steve Borthwick's side denied second place in Six Nations by late penalty

A late Thomas Ramos penalty gave France a 33-31 victory over England and second place in the Six Nations; England finish in third place, Scotland in fourth, Italy in fifth, and Wales sixth; England were leading with less than five minutes remaining

Image: France held their nerve to win a thrilling match in Lyon 33-31 against England

A late penalty from Thomas Ramos clinched a 33-31 victory for France and denied England second place in the Six Nations.

Although England put the first points on the board through a George Ford penalty, it was then France who took control of the majority of the first half, three Thomas Ramos penalties plus a sensational converted try by Nolann Le Garrec giving them a lead.

Despite them seemingly being in control, England hit back in the dying moments of the half through Ollie Lawrence, Ford converting to reduce the deficit to 16-10 at half-time.

England then stunned France straight after the break, two converted tries in the space of six minutes from Lawrence and Marcus Smith giving them a 24-16 advantage, but the hosts hit back through a converted Leo Barre effort to bring it to a one-point game.

England's Ollie Lawrence (centre) is tackled by France's Thomas Ramos (left) during the Guinness Six Nations match at the Groupama Stadium in Lyon, France. Picture date: Saturday March 16, 2024.
Image: France sealed a late and dramatic win over England and second place in the Six Nations

Gael Fickou then put France back ahead but after Ramos missed another penalty chance, England hit back through Tommy Freeman, Ford sending a sublime conversion over for a 31-30 lead.

However there was still drama to come, a penalty with less than two minutes to go from halfway for France sailing over the sticks and clinching them a 33-31 win and second place in the Six Nations.

Ramos performs under pressure as England denied by late drama

A fast-paced, loose start to Le Crunch saw momentum swing between the two sides, England suffering an early loss as George Furbank went off with a calf injury, bringing Marcus Smith into the fullback role.

Also See:

2024 Six Nations standings

Team W D L SD BP P
Ireland 4 0 1 84 4 20
France 3 1 1 6 1 15
England 3 0 2 -5 2 14
Scotland 2 0 3 0 4 12
Italy 2 1 2 -34 1 11
Wales 0 0 5 -51 4 4

After absorbing the French pressure, England were first on the scoreboard through the boot of Ford but after France hit straight back through Ramos, an incredible try started and ended by Le Garrec gave the home outfit a 10-3 advantage after 20 minutes.

With the French flair in full flow, England had to weather the storm and another Ramos penalty set them back, the ball flying over the posts and extending France's lead to 13-3 with less than 10 minutes of the first half remaining.

Ollie Lawrence showed his pace and power as he went over for England
Image: Ollie Lawrence showed his pace and power as he went over for England

England continued to lose the breakdown and give away soft penalties, Ramos calling for the tee once again, but then finally found their breakthrough after a raft of penalties put them in prime position, Lawrence beating his man through the gap to go in under the sticks, France taking in a 16-10 lead in at the break.

The visitors started the second half in fine fashion as, after Underhill and Earl combined, Lawrence powered over for his second and Ford converted for a slender 17-16 lead.

Score Summary: France 33-31 England

France: Tries: Nolann Le Garrec (20), Leo Barre (56), Gael Fickou (60); Conversions: Thomas Ramos (17, 21, 32, 36, 57, 79)

England: Tries: Ollie Lawrence (40, 42), Marcus Smith (46), Tommy Freeman (74); Conversions: George Ford (12, 40, 43, 47, 75)

With confidence and a spring in their step, Smith then stepped on through for England's second try in the first six minutes of the second half, Ford converting once again to put England 24-16 in front.

Marcus Smith combined with Ben Earl as England took control in the second 40
Image: Marcus Smith combined with Ben Earl as England took control in the second 40

It wasn't long until France hit back though, a string of passes sending Barre over to the crowd's delight, Ramos converting to bring it to a one-point game.

Disaster for England then ensued as a poor lineout throw then a defensive misunderstanding involving Smith allowed Damian Penaud and Fickau to combine, the latter going in under the sticks to put France 30-24 up with 20 minutes to go.

With Tommy Freeman's interception attempt hitting the ground, Ramos was afforded another penalty but this time he couldn't get it between the sticks and so it stayed a six-point game.

It was then Freeman himself who finished off the passing move to put England within a point, Ford clinching a brilliant conversion for a 31-30 lead but a late penalty for France was expertly sent over the sticks by Ramos to seal the 33-31 victory and second place behind Ireland.

England now finish third, with Scotland in fourth, Italy in fifth, and Wales in sixth.

England's Six Nations 2024 fixtures

Saturday, February 3 Italy 24-27 England
Saturday, February 10 England 16-14 Wales
Saturday, February 24 Scotland 30-21 England
Saturday, March 9 England 23-22 Ireland
Saturday, March 16 France 33-31 England

France's Six Nations 2024 fixtures

Friday, February 2 France 17-38 Ireland
Saturday, February 10 Scotland 16-20 France
Sunday, February 25 France 13-13 Italy
Sunday, March 10 Wales 24-45 France
Saturday, March 16 France 33-31 England

George: England on an upward curve | Borthwick: We didn't lose, we just ran out of time

England captain Jamie George, speaking to ITV…

England captain Jamie George believes England are on an upward trajectory
Image: England captain Jamie George believes England are on an upward trajectory

"It is devastating, reminiscent of the last time we were in France against South Africa [in the World Cup]. I don't know quite know how to sum it up.

"France showed their class in the first 20 minutes but we found a way back in with some individual brilliance. I am really proud of the boys' efforts.

"This is definitely a team on an upward curve. When we play and put teams under pressure with the ball, we look a very dangerous team.

"I think we have performed very well.

"We will be disappointed with the loss to Scotland but [against France], if you look at the performance... it wasn't perfect but we gave it a good go.

"Our scrum and set-piece held up nicely, it was probably our discipline that let us down a little bit so we need to fix that but I have loved the last seven weeks."

England head coach Steve Borthwick:

"I am really disappointed for the players, they worked so hard, and disappointed for the supporters as well.

"But I am immensely proud as the players have worked hard to progress. The weight of the shirt is starting to feel lighter.

"With that much intensity, we didn't lose, we just ran out of time.

"We thought we would come here and win. but we have started competing with the top four teams.

"We don't just want to compete, we want to win, but we have made a first step in the right direction."

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