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A headache named Wilko

Latest update : 2008-02-25

England signed their second straight win against France at the Stade de France. Led by Johnny Wilkinson, the English XV dominated the game scoring in the first minutes of the match. Final score: 13 - 24.

England, fired by the boot of Jonny Wilkinson, dashed French hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam with a 24-13 win over France at the Stade de France here on Saturday.
  
It was England's first away win over France in the Six Nations since 2000, and left unbeaten Wales as the only side in European rugby's premier tournament now capable of claiming the Grand Slam.
  
England's win was fired by a gritty defensive display and 14 points from Wilkinson along with an opportunist try by winger Paul Sackey and a late try from debutant scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth.
  
In their first meeting since October's World Cup semi-final won 14-9 by England, the home side scored their only try through captain Lionel Nallet, with Morgan Parra and Dimitri Yachvili hitting a penalty apiece and Damien Traille a conversion.
  
France, which boasted a trio of relatively untested youngsters in the pivotal No 8 and half-back positions, showed their intent in the opening salvoes, running everything and refusing to kick out of their own 22-metre area.
  
But the high-risk strategy floundered in the fourth minute when England centre Jamie Noon, who does not play a blitz defence for his club Newcastle, came charging out of the line to take Cedric Heymans man-and-ball with the France full-back just outside his 22.
  
Heymans spilt the ball, Sackey raced through unmarked and gathered his own grubber to touch down.
  
Wilkinson hit the extras and then added a simple 14th minute penalty after Pascal Pape was penalised for refusing to roll away from a tackle.
  
France finally got on the scoreboard in the 26th minute, Nallet being driven over from short range for a try, just desserts for some great build-up play that went through a succession of phases.
  
Traille, who had earlier missed a tricky penalty, was successful with the conversion.
  
Nallet was at fault, however, just minutes later when he needlessly entered a ruck from the side to hand the faultless Wilkinson an effort at goal the sharpshooter did not spurn.
  
Wilkinson was then on hand to produce a fine covering tackle on Heymans at full flight.
  
France went into half-time 13-7 down when Traille missed a shot at goal after a late tackle.
  
It was not a game for the purist, with the decision by both sides to force a high-risk running game from all over the park leading to a litany of handling errors amidst a myriad of technical offences as defence won out.
  
Traille was relieved of kicking duties in the second half and the 19-year-old scrum-half Morgan Parra banged over a penalty after Mark Regan hit out at Lionel Faure in a ruck.
  
With the French pack under pressure and penalised for petty mistakes twice within minutes, Wilkinson had a chance to open up a nine-point lead for England but skewed both attempts at goal.
  
He did, however, nail a drop-goal after Lesley Vainikolo had opened up the French midfield, and a 66th minute penalty after the French scrum had again collapsed.
  
Replacement scrum-half Yachvili kicked a late penalty for the French but their tactical naivity ensured England's territoral domination which was borne out when Wigglesworth crossed for a try in the final minute.

Date created : 2008-02-23

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