France replacement centre Gael Fickou crossed in the 76th minute to break English hearts, with the hosts seeing out the last few minutes to win 26-24 at the Stade de France in Paris.
It was a game in which the momentum changed hands on several occasions, with France starting the stronger, scoring two tries in the first 17 minutes through Yoann Huget, before England hit back with one of their own through Mike Brown before the break.
England continued in the ascendency after half time, with Luther Burrell scoring a try and Owen Farrell adding a conversion and a penalty, and Danny Care slotted a drop goal to take England five points ahead, before Fickou scored at the death.
Owen Farrell had a good game for England and was their most important player, according to the stats from IBM TryTracker. Completing 30 passes, making five gainline breaks and beating two defenders, he led the England backline with aplomb, and answered his critics who claim he cannot attack the gainline. Billy Vunipola was another to contribute heavily.
For France, Yannick Nyanga was absolutely superb, a thorn in England’s side all afternoon. He, along with Yoann Huget who scored an early brace, were France’s key influencers.
France smashed two of their three ‘Keys to the Game’, achieving a scrum success rate of 100% while also averaging 4.1 metres per carry in the forwards. England, by contrast, failed to meet two of their three, having only five kicks at goal and averaging just 5.8 metres per carry in the backs.
For more live stats on matchdays, head to the RFU website and IBM TryTracker
Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images