Watson double seals England win over France


Two tries from Anthony Watson and a Jonny May score helped England to a 19-14 World Cup warm-up victory over France at Twickenham on Saturday.

Despite including four debutants in their starting XV, England looked far more cohesive than the visitors and were worthy winners in what was the 100th meeting between the two sides.

The hosts' strong performance will have given coach Stuart Lancaster some welcome selection headaches, with Henry Slade and Alex Goode, in particular, enhancing their World Cup prospects with eye-catching displays.

Indeed, the only real negative to come out of the game for England was the fact that they lost two of their debutants, Sam Burgess and Calum Clark, to needless yellow cards either side of half-time.

France coach Philippe Saint-Andre, in contrast, was left to reflect upon yet another disjointed performance from his much-changed side in which they looked worryingly vulnerable at the scrum.

England did have to weather an early French storm, with May just managing to keep Sofiane Guitoune out as the Perpignan man attempted to touch down Remi Lamerat's kick ahead.

But having sustained only minor damage in the form of a Morgan Parra penalty, the home side hit back in spectacular style on 11 minutes.

Watson took the ball from a standing start, turned on the after-burners and left Brice Dulin trailing embarrassingly in his wake as he raced away to score a memorable try.

Watson's second five-pointer seven minutes later was more of a team effort, an intricate backline move featuring Owen Farell and May eventually creating the opportunity for the Bath winger to go over in the corner.

With England dominant at scrum-time and leading 12-3, it was starting to look a touch ominous for France, but they managed to reduce the deficit to three points courtesy of a further two penalties from Parra and then received another boost just short of the break.

The lively Parra was blatantly pulled back by Burgess as he attempted to take a quick tap-penalty, earning the rugby league convert an inevitable yellow card.

Crucially, however, the French failed to add a single point during Burgess' enforced absence and within a minute of the centre's return, England bagged their third try.

A lineout overthrow gifted the hosts a perfect attacking opportunity and Alex Goode's inch-perfect cross-kick sent May in out wide.

Clark then received his yellow for a dangerous and senseless tackle at a ruck and this time France did take advantage of their numerical superiority to reduce England's lead to 19-14 through a close-range try from flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo.

A flurry of substitutions seriously disrupted the flow of the game in the latter stages and no further tries were forthcoming, leaving England to approach next week's re-match in Paris in confident mood.