Rugby: France Women 18 England Women 17
- Credit: PA Archive/PA Images
England Women suffered a late defeat against France in the Six Nations as the Red Roses went down in Grenoble.
Both teams came into the game off the back of perfect records having won three out of three with try bonus-points to sit on 15 points.
England, with Saracens duo Poppy Cleall and Marlie Packer in their back row, spent the opening exchanges inside the French half and were rewarded when some neat handling was finished off by wing Abigail Dow as Les Bleus conceded a try for the first time in the tournament.
In front of an impassioned 17,440 crowd backing the hosts, France responded as Jessy Trémoulière went over out wide but she was unable add the conversion to her score.
Some French pressure before the break saw fly half Caroline Drouin cross as they took a 10-7 lead into half-time.
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England’s second try came from a driving maul off a line-out, as hooker Amy Cokayne dotted down from five metres out.
France full back Trémoulière knocked over a penalty to bring the game to within a point as England led 14-13 with 25 minutes to go.
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However, despite a huge defensive effort from the Red Roses, as well as a Katy Daley-Mclean penalty, Trémoulière broke through with two minutes to go to snatch victory by a point.
“We showed an amazing amount of character in what was an unbelievable environment to play in,” said head coach Simon Middleton.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the character the players showed, but we just weren’t good enough on the night.
“We weren’t at our best, we know that but we still created enough chances to win the game and I think that’s what we’re more disappointed with than anything – that we created chances and didn’t take them.
“A fantastic occasion and a great game. Fair play to France, they never gave up, they hung in right to the end which we knew they would.”
England: 15. Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury, 7 caps); 14. Abigail Dow (Wasps, 5 caps); 13. Rachael Burford (Harlequins, 78 caps); 12. Amber Reed (Bristol, 48 caps); 11. Danielle Waterman (Wasps, 81 caps); 10. Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 98 caps); 9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins, 20 caps); 1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins, 38 caps); 2. Amy Cokayne (Wasps, 40 caps); 3. Sarah Bern (Gloucester Hartpury, 19 caps); 4. Abbie Scott (Harlequins, 28 caps); 5. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 115 caps); 6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens, 21 caps); 7. Marlie Packer (Saracens, 58 caps); 8. Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, 104 caps). Replacements: 16. Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries, 9 caps); 17. Rochelle Clark (Wasps, 136 caps); 18. Justine Lucas (Wasps, 32 caps); 19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond, 46 caps); 20. Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol, 42 caps); 21. Caity Mattinson (Bristol, 6 caps); 22. Lagi Tuima (Bristol, 4 caps); 23. Charlotte Pearce (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps).