Video Credits: Guinness Six Nations
On Sunday afternoon in front of a sold-out crowd of 82,000 at Twickenham we witnessed a 30-minute hat-trick by Johnny May, along with scores from Henry Slade, Owen Farrell and a penalty try, which saw England humiliate France 44-8.
England has now scored a try within the opening four minutes in eight of their fourteen tests since the beginning of 2018, with Johnny May crossing the line for four of those eight. Another fun stat for Johnny and his friends is he becomes the first England player to score a hat-trick against France since Jake Jacob way back in 1924!
The talk before the game was, which France would turn up? In fact, it probably didn’t matter which one turned up as this current England team looked fired up and ready to take on any of the world’s best. France was bettered all over the park from the pack to the backs, there were no positives for Les Blues to take home.
The match started in the same fashion as the previous week against Ireland, inside of two minutes Johnny May stepped on the gas after a gloriously weighted chipped ball from Elliot Daly to fly past the French pairing of Parra and Penaud to ground the ball for the first try of the day. Skipper Farrell missed the conversion - apart from that it was more or less the perfect start.
Inside of fifteen minutes, Owen Farrell had added two penalties for England, with France’s Morgan Parra adding a penalty for France to take the score to 11-3.
In the twenty-fourth minute England set up camp under France’s posts only for Farrell to spread the ball wide to May, still with a lot of work to do May shimmied his way past Penaud for his second try of the day. Farrell again missed the conversion but England had a healthy 16-3 advantage.
Just before the thirty-minute mark, it was proving to be May’s day, after sixteen phases of play, Ashton chipped another perfectly weighted ball with the outside of his right boot for May to pounce on. This completed May’s hat-trick and his fourth try of the Six Nations thus far. The score after thirty-minutes of play was 23-3, a daunting task faced France to get back into the game.
A rare moment did come for the visitors in the thirty-fourth minute as the full back broke forward evading multiple English tackles, passed to the outside where Penaud managed to dive over the line. A missed conversion narrowed the gap down to fifteen points (23-8).
There was to be a bonus for England just before the end of the first half as Henry Slade bulldozed his way over the line to ensure England picked up the four-try bonus point for the second week in a row. This ultimately ended any hopes of a French revival. England marched into the dressing room with a 30-8 lead at the half-way mark.
After the break it took England until the forty-eighth minute to mount a serious attack with Slade intercepting a French pass to race clear, he didn’t have the pace to make the try line but did manage to get a clever kick off for Ashton to chase. However, Ashton never did get the chance to chase the ball and make the try as he was tackled before ever getting to it. This resulted in a penalty try to England and a yellow card for the French. To add insult to injury, France would be down to fourteen men for ten minutes and trailed by 29 points (37-8).
In the fifty-fourth minute, Ben Young took a quick penalty and sprinted forward to lay a pass off to Farrell, who in turn kicked forward for May to chase. May didn’t get there in time, rather fortuitously the ball bounced back off a French hand for Farrell to jump on. Farrell converted his own try to take the points tally to 44-8, job well done!
There were to be no further points added by either side for the remainder of the match. England kicked the ball into touch on the eighty-second minute to cap off a wonderful afternoons work.
England go up against the Welsh (Saturday 23rd) at the Millenium stadium, which looks to be their last stern test in the Six Nations, a win against the Welsh pretty much seal the Six Nations Championship. However, England would still need to beat Italy and Scotland at Twickenham for Grand Slam bragging rights.
These games are always a close encounter however, Wales have not beaten England in a Six Nations match since 2013 - crikey boyos!. However, history bears no presence once the thirty players take the field. Nonetheless a huge game for both teams considering the World Cup is just around the corner.
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