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England beat France to secure Grand Slam in Bayonne

By PA
English players celebrate their Grand Slam victory after winning the Six Nations international women's rugby union match between France and England at Jean Dauger stadium in Bayonne (Photo by Philippe LOPEZ / AFP) (Photo by PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images)

Two tries from Bristol prop Sarah Bern helped England claim the Grand Slam with a 24-12 victory over France in ‘Le Crunch’ in Bayonne.

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England produced a dominant first-half performance to lay the platform for an emphatic 23rd successive victory in the final match of the 2022 TikTok Women’s Six Nations that enabled them to add the championship to the Triple Crown.

The Red Roses scored all their three tries before half-time to silence the capacity crowd at Stade Jean Dauger while centre Emily Scarratt, captaining the side in the absence of injured regular skipper Sarah Hunter, scored their only points in the second half through a penalty to add to her three conversions.

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We are joined by Springbok rugby royalty with very special guest Siya Kolisi | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 31
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We are joined by Springbok rugby royalty with very special guest Siya Kolisi | RugbyPass Offload | Episode 31

England’s 10th successive triumph over their world number three 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 number eight Romane 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 line-out to pile on the pressure and it paid off after 16 minutes when second rower Abbie Ward profited from another rampant rolling maul to claim their second try.

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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 re-doubled 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 for a deliberate knock on, an offence which enabled Scarratt to extend England’s lead to 24-7 with a penalty.

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Scarratt pulled off a try-saving tackle on replacement Emilie Boulard to snuff out any threat of a fightback, although prop Annaelle Deshayes did claim a consolation try after 66 minutes.

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