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England edge past France as floodlight failure cuts short game

England edge past France as floodlight failure cuts short game

Abby Dow

England got the better of France for the second week running in Lille, edging home 17-15 in a match that had to be abandoned due to floodlight failure.

In a repeat of the Women’s Six Nations final, Abby Dow was the star of the show for the visitors, scoring two tries as they made it nine wins in a row against Les Bleues.

Despite making wholesale changes to their backline, France looked much more threatening than they had a week ago at the Stoop.

But when the lights failed on 62 minutes, it was Zoe Harrison’s penalties that separated the sides and, with no return possible, England took the win.

France, who had been so dominant at scrum-time a week ago, continued where they left off here as they piled the pressure on the England scrum.

They were rewarded for a fine opening with a try from centre Maëlle Filopon, one of the six new faces in the backline.

It came after a lovely wrap-around move from Pauline Bourdon, well-worked with prop Rose Bernadou, before putting Filopon through a gap. Jessy Trémoulière converted to make it 7-0.

England responded immediately however with a brilliant score from first phase. From a lineout on halfway, England spread the ball to the right with wide passes from Harrison and Emily Scarratt.

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Dow still had a lot to do, but she left Trémoulière trailing in her wake on her way to a stunning individual score and Harrison converted to level matters.

Still, France looked dangerous, with one Gabrielle Vernier break setting up another opportunity, only for England to turn the ball over at just the right time.

Morgane Peyronnet imitated her centre soon after, and this time Harrison was sent to the sin-bin as her lazy run stopped a try-scoring chance.

France took the scrum five metres out and Bourdon put Trémoulière over. Her conversion attempt went just wide, a miss that would eventually prove crucial.

Despite being down a player, England hit straight back, with Dow taking advantage of a loose kick to beat Romane Ménager before proving too quick and strong for Bourdon and Trémoulière. With Harrison in the sin-bin, Scarratt slotted the extras as England led 14-12 at the break.

France started the second half strongly, and moved back in front when Trémoulière punished hands in the ruck.

But a high tackle soon after allowed Harrison to put the visitors ahead once again.

France lost Julie Annery to the sin-bin, but held out in her absence.

However as they pushed to try to regain the lead, the match had to be drawn to a premature close. With more than an hour gone, a result was possible and England took the spoils.