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Published: Mon, February 06, 2017
Economy | By Melissa Porter

England see off fearless France at Twickenham to set winning record


France are set to become dominant in world rugby, according to England coach Eddie Jones.

Maro Itoje, England's outstanding player in 2016 and normally a lock, makes his first global start at blind-side flanker, while Courtney Lawes partners Joe Launchbury in the second row following the withdrawal earlier in the week of George Kruis. Jack Nowell, on for two minutes, took the ball to the line.

England centre Jonathan Joseph then chipped over the defence but he was beaten to the touchdown by talented France scrumhalf Baptiste Serin.

Hard to stop: Louis Picamoles tests England's defence.

"We were very bad but we were always going to win the game and that is what I like about these boys".

"It is our first game of the tournament and we will improve."

Despite the success, head coach Jones admitted that he was thoroughly disappointed with the display and was taken aback with such a close contest.

"I have been to the Principality Stadium and it is just another ground and so we will just have to work out why England don't play well in Wales".

Talk of a French revival after years of decline will gain credence if France storm Twickenham, a venue where they have not prevailed since 2007, but they enter the 102nd meeting between the rivals as 5/1 underdogs. But with superior fitness, better technical skills and a proven goal-kicker, the hosts should start the defence of their title with a win. By halftime, Farrell and Elliot Daly kicked England back on even terms even though the home side looked second best. The talismanic fly-half is out with a calf injury, and although Paddy Jackson is an able deputy, Sexton brings a control and intelligence to the Irish game that will be sorely missed at Murrayfield.

"I want my players to finish the actions they've started. There is definitely a special feeling about going away from home and trying to get a result".

"If we win the Six Nations I will stand up here and do handstands".

"We went back to what we knew, we went back to the England way, sticking to the simple things and executing ourselves as a unit". France could be the dark horses of the tournament but will need to be clinical if they are to challenge for the crown.

England will also be without the injured Vunipola brothers, with prop Mako replaced by Joe Marler, who said drinking vast quantities of milk lay behind his recovery from a fractured leg.

England came out firing in the second half but Farrell saw his penalty bounce back off a post and Daly put a foot on the sideline as he dived over the French line.

Yet what excites Jones most is the quality of the teams involved - a far cry from the gloom that enveloped the northern hemisphere game after a 2015 World Cup in England where no European side reached the semi-finals.

"Ben Te'o and James Haskell came on and gave us a good bit going forward at the end there so unbelievable impact from our subs".

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