Twickenham Truths: Sub-plot saves England record, George Ford stalling

It was once billed as "Le Crunch" but outspoken England coach Eddie Jones was ready for a rugby "war" against France in the opening match of his grand slam champions' Six Nations title defence at Twickenham on Saturday.

"If you look at the Top 14 and the players they've picked in their team, they're extremely risky", Twelvetrees said.

"England have said what they want to do, good for them".

The English defence was narrow, their set-pieces were stressed, and they missed 24 tackles, nearly twice as many as France. "For some reason we sat back in the first half, we weren't our usual urgent selves".

However, they were far from their best and needed a 70th minute try from replacement centre Ben Te'o to snatch victory, continuing Les Bleus' misery at this ground where they have only won once this century.

Anthony Watson, Sam Jones and Jack Nowell also suffered injuries during training, calling into question Jones' practice sessions, which have been described by James Haskell as "super intense".

"Ireland turned world rugby upside down; they come in in good fettle, a well-coached confident group of players".

England struggled through the first half with France looking the more unsafe team but the sides were tied 9-9 at half-time following three penalty kicks apiece.

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"We can't get much uglier than that", Jones said.

I've put all of that in the pot, and despite the skinny odds of 8/10 on England to win the tournament, I do not feel it is that clear-cut, nor do I feel there will be a Grand Slam this season.

"Scotland will be risky and France will be hard, so I think they literally will take it this weekend, next week, a little break and then take it from there".

He did the same again six minutes before the break but Lopez let England off this time by sending his kick wide of the posts. Such an effective weapon for both teams in the past, it's a shame to see the maul fail so badly in this match. As for Rabah Slimani's try, that came from superb offloads close to the line.

However, England has a number of key players out with injuries including Chris Robshaw and the Vunipola brothers all sidelined.

8 - Lineouts won by Maro Itoje, twice as many as France's top catcher Damian Chouly. They also made twice as many line breaks, ten to five.

M Brown; J May, J Joseph, O Farrell, E Daly; G Ford, B Youngs; J Marler, D Hartley, D Cole, J Launchbury, C Lawes, M Itoje, T Wood, N Hughes.

Try: Te'o. Con: Farrell. Elliot Daly saw red for a sphere tackle against Argentina in the autumn and May will not have done his chances of retaining his place for the trip to Wales next weekend much good, especially after the Wasps man Daly came within inches of scoring a try and slotted a 50m penalty kick just before half-time.


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