England let slip lead in final minute against France as Six Nations campaign ends in defeat

England let slip lead in final minute against France as Six Nations campaign ends in defeat

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Stuart Ballard

By Stuart Ballard

Published: 16/03/2024

- 21:57

Updated: 16/03/2024

- 22:17

England were just seconds away from ending the Six Nations on a high before losing 33-31 to France.

England have finished third behind France in the Six Nations table after a last-minute defeat in Lyon on Saturday night.

The title was no longer a possibility after Ireland wrapped things up earlier in the day against Scotland.

Pride was still on the line for both France and England with the winner taking the second spot in the table.

And it turned into an all-time classic in Lyon with both teams going for the win until the very last second.

France finished above England in the table

France finished above England in the table


Nolann Le Garrec set the tone with one of the greatest tries in Six Nations history in the first half and open up a healthy 16-3 lead for the hosts.

But England were not down and out with Ollie Lawrence crossing for two tries either side of the interval to turn the tie on its head.

Marcus Smith then finished off a brilliant move from England after being set free by Ben Earls.

Changes for both sides slowed the game down slightly after that flurry of tries for England.

That played into France's hands as they got back in control of the ball before Leo Barre crossed the line to bring France back to within one point.

And the hosts were back in the lead minutes later after a mistake at the line-out for England was pounced upon by the French.

Gael Fickou finished off the quick counter-attack from France and that looked to be the winning moment.

However, there was still time for plenty of drama in the closing stages when George Ford and Smith showed their quick hands before letting Tommy Freeman loose on the wing.

The 23-year-old raced forward and touched the ball down over the line before Ford nailed the extras from out wide and give England the lead with just a matter of minutes left.

Tommy Freeman thought he had won the game for England

Tommy Freeman thought he had won the game for England


But England were unable to keep their composure until the end as they gave away a penalty in the last minute, which was converted by Thomas Ramos from the halfway line.

England had no time left to retaliate with France kicking the ball out to touch as soon as the clock reached the 80-minute mark to end a pulsating match.

The result meant England finished third in the table behind France, but it was their best points tally since winning the Six Nations back in 2020.


Thomas Ramos kicked the winning penalty

Thomas Ramos kicked the winning penalty


Despite the loss, England captain Jamie George remained positive with what he saw from his country.

"I felt like we put France under a lot of pressure, but fair play to them they showed their class," he said.

"Sometimes you can take the score out of it and take the performance as a whole, it was not perfect by all means but we gave it a good go and I thought our scrum and our set-piece held up nicely. Discipline let us down a little bit.

"The endeavour to go out there, have a crack and play with a smile on our faces, I thought the boys did that. I have loved the last seven weeks."

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