England captain Owen Farrell was proud of the way his side stepped up in the key moments as they ended France’s Grand Slam bid at Twickenham.
In one of the most entertaining encounters of the 2021 Guinness Six Nations, Maro Itoje’s late try saw England snatch a late 23-20 win and derail Les Bleus’ hopes of a clean sweep.
France were gunning for a first Guinness Six Nations win at Twickenham since 2005 and led 17-13 after a scintillating first half thanks to Antoine Dupont’s early score and a Damian Penaud try.
Anthony Watson had crossed for England on the occasion of his 50th Test cap and the hosts kept on fighting until Itoje ploughed over with four minutes remaining.
And after disappointing defeats to Scotland and Wales in the first three rounds of this year’s Championship, Farrell was delighted with the fighting spirit on display in southwest London.
“France are a brilliant team and this was a proper, proper Test match,” said Farrell. “I thought it was a great game of rugby. There were ups and down throughout and it was nice to come out on the right side of it.
“The belief in what we were doing [pleased me most]. Off the back of a few disappointing results, when things don’t go your way it can be easier to go within yourselves.
“But I thought we were growing throughout the game. When the pressure came on, we looked at our best and that was a great thing to be a part of.”
England will round out their Championship campaign with an intriguing contest against Ireland on Super Saturday and Farrell says his are improving with every passing week.
“We want to win, of course we do,” added Farrell. “We feel like we’ve been growing all the time through this Six Nations but obviously there’s results we’re not so proud of and performances we’re not so proud of.
“But we feel this is going to bring the best out of us and that we’re growing – I think that showed here.”