May 18, 2024

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France-England (21-42): Blues come up against English wall to slip away Women's Six Nations

France-England (21-42): Blues come up against English wall to slip away Women's Six Nations

New failure. After five defeats in five years against England, including three on the final day of the Six Nations, the Blues lost again against the Bet Roses in Bordeaux (21-42) this Saturday. Despite the encouragement of the 28,023 supporters at the Saban-Delmas stadium, it was a cruel disappointment for the French women, who were overwhelmed by English power in the first half, a record attendance for women's rugby in France. England XV was crowned for the 20th time in 29 editions.

Like last year England batted first this year too. After a penalty by Hannah Potterman, pillar Maud Muir made the French defense give up after a stuttering sequence (5th, 0-7). A similar move brought England's second try seven minutes later through Alex Matthews.

But unlike in 2023, when the Blues took a half and gave up 33 points to enter their encounter, this time they responded immediately. After several good shots at 22m, the elusive Asia Khalfawy found Gabriel Vernier in space, who slipped into the in-goal area (18th, 7-14). A happy omen?

Unstoppable malls

Either way, it didn't take long for Chaban-Delmas, who was already catching fire with each successful tackle, to wake up the field. But the happiness was short-lived. On her 22m restart, Emily Poulard missed her delivery, allowing England flyhalf Megan Jones to score in the corner (25th, 7-21). Not enough to trouble the French, who set the record straight. After a big push at the scrum, Pauline Borden-Sanchez started a mad dash down the right side of the field. The ball reached the Marine manager, who tried to equalize it in the center of the goal (28, 14-21).

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Both teams clashed. After another perfectly controlled maul, Marley Packer gave the English two tries early (33rd, 14-28) following a touch gained after a penalty against Gail Hermet. Pauline Bourdon-Sansus then looked to give an immediate reaction but the referee ruled her offside, much to the dismay of the Bordeaux crowd. It was Red Roses in the end that put the last Banderilla just before the siren after another devastating mall by Amy Cockayne (MT, 14-35).

Blue dominates the second period

The second half was amazing. Carried on by a glowing public, the Blues tried everything to change the course of the match, but each time made a small mistake. Hand mistakes, late supports, poorly adjusted passes, missing a lot, but a little more. Especially guilty after Asia Kalpawi's red card for dangerous play in the 45th minute. The British were content to maintain their staunch defenses and increasingly contained enemy attacks.

A try of hope finally came in the 70th minute from the Marine manager's right wing. Singled out by Anne-Cécile Ciofani, the northerner, who had been reeling in her side since the start of the match, Lina Queroy (21-35) again tried to get close to the posts to ease the conversion. However, two tries were left to make up for it, when Alex Matthews found a gap to condemn France decisively (73rd, 21-42).

Since 2020, the French have lost on the second step of the podium against the English Barley. However, the second half remained positive as the Blues managed to impose their game and push the Red Roses back into their camp. In 2024, we will now meet for the fourth final of the Six Nations tournament between the two teams.

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