Red Roses defeat France in a brutal Rugby World Cup clash

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By Creative Media News

England has yet to be defeated in 27 Tests, and their World Cup train continues to move on. However, this serves as a timely reminder that competition at the highest level may be fierce and that nothing comes easily on the grandest stage. Even though France was defeated, their defensive resistance was consistently superb, and the contest was never anything less than intense.

Red roses defeat france in a brutal rugby world cup clash
Red roses defeat france in a brutal rugby world cup clash

Marlie Packer was a continual thorn in the side of the French, while Emily Scarratt scored all of her team’s points, including a try in the 24th minute that provided England a much-needed breathing space. Despite their smooth line-outs and occasional scrum pressure, Simon Middleton’s squad will need to diversify their play if they are to reclaim the 2014 world championship.

France in bruising
Red roses defeat france in a brutal rugby world cup clash

In the final ten minutes, France was still within a goal of England, who generally had their opponents on the ground long before the final whistle. Scarratt and Sarah Hunter dropping balls they would ordinarily catch in their sleep is an extremely rare occurrence, but it was only an indication of the defensive pressure the French were able to inflict.

Hunter, who has already matched Rocky Clark’s record of 137 caps for her country, admitted that her squad was engaged in a genuine battle. “It was a grind out there,” the England skipper said. Hopefully, the event was an excellent presentation for women’s rugby.

An engrossing, if occasionally stop-and-go, the game could have been even more difficult for England had France not lost their two finest players, Laure Sansus and Romane Ménager, in the first quarter and held on to the ball at a few crucial moments. The scrum-half Sansus was this year’s Six Nations player of the tournament, but her night was finished after only 12 minutes when she was driven off on a medical cart with a leg injury.

The French situation deteriorated when the exceptional No. 8 Ménager attempted to tackle Zoe Aldcroft and was knocked unconscious. Initially, referee Joy Neville believed she was lying on the incorrect side of the ruck on purpose, but it soon became clear that she was asleep, a frightening sight in any match, never alone one of this scale.

It was a relief to see her sitting up, but her tearful farewell was a reminder that the women’s game can be just as merciless as the men’s. In the opening quarter-and-a-half alone, France had to make 81 tackles in response to England’s forwards storming into contact.

England was also not having its way at the breakdown, but the pressure was always expected to finally show. Instead of settling for their normal driving maul, the Red Roses decided to probe a little wider, and after Alex Matthews had made a considerable impact, Zoe Harrison skilfully placed Scarratt over for the game’s first try after 24 minutes.

The goal by the center made the score 7-0, but France would not give up. Gabrielle Vernier was responsible for a particularly jarring tackle on Ellie Kildunne, which knocked her opponent backward in midfield. Neville gave a penalty because Kildunne’s feet ended up just over the horizontal, even though a goal had been scored via foul play.

It was therefore not surprising that England chose for the sticks rather than the corner and another driven lineout soon before halftime to score three easy points. A 10-0 advantage at halftime may not have been enormous, but it seemed advantageous in the context of a tough contest.

However, now that the pre-match breeze has subsided, England would have expected their energetic reserve to have a greater influence than they did. Scarratt was able to convert her second penalty after a flurry of French penalties, but it was no less than France deserved when a crosskick from fly-half Caroline Drouin found the athletic winger Joanna Grisez, who popped the ball up for Galle Hermet to score.

Perhaps on a different day, with greater possession, France would have posed even more offensive issues, leaving Middleton and his assistants with much to think about before next weekend’s match against South Africa, the final match in their pool. The head coach stated, “I tip my hat to France for being so tough.”

“It became an actual arm wrestling, but we finished with wonderful calm. Something was lacking in our finishing, which is why we ended ourselves in such a close match. We must become better at storing these.”

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