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France 33-31 England: Thomas Ramos converts a late penalty kick as the hosts finish second

France 33-31 England: Thomas Ramos converts a late penalty kick as the hosts finish second

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A late penalty kick gives France victory over England in an exciting match

Guinness Six Nations: France vs England

Try: Le Garric, Barry, Vico pencil: Ramos 4 cons: Ramos 3

Try: Lawrence 2, Smith, Freeman pencil: stronghold cons: Ford 3

Thomas Ramos kicked the winning penalty from the halfway line as France beat England in a seven-try thriller to finish second in the 2024 Six Nations.

After Ireland won the title in Dublin, the hosts took a 16-3 lead in Lyon before Ollie Lawrence scored in each half to give England the advantage.

Marcus Smith continued to advance, but Leo Barry and Gael Fico responded.

George Ford converted Tommy Freeman's late effort as momentum swung England's way again but Ramos had the final say.

Both teams' title ambitions were dashed before kick-off after Ireland retained their title with victory over Scotland, but the final of the tournament proved to be one of the most entertaining.

This is France's first victory on home soil since being eliminated from the World Cup quarter-finals by losing to South Africa in Paris last year.

Two extra points for England for trailing France by less than seven points and scoring four tries for the first time this season ensured they finished third above Scotland.

Although they trailed in all five games at half-time, it was their best Six Nations comeback since Steve Borthwick took over as head coach after their third-placed finish in last year's World Cup.

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Ford and Ramos exchanged early penalties before Nolan Le Garric scored the opening try with a clinical French move that he started inside his own 22.

The half-half, standing in for France talisman Antoine Dupont, took advantage of England's failure to hold their own to fire the ball wide as the home side outran their visitors for Barry to move up the pitch and pass the ball back to Lou Garric.

Ramos' proven boot provided support but France's continued attacking intent appeared to force England's hand as Lawrence took the lead on the stroke of half-time with his first try after a brilliant pass from midfield partner Henry Slade.

The midfielder then doubled his tally moments after the break by stretching over the goal line after some quick play.

Traditional midfielder Smith, playing at full-back to cover for the injured George Furbank, completed another comprehensive team move as England looked to avenge last year's record home defeat to France.

But the home side remained in the fight and, as they did to beat Wales last week, emptied their heavy benches as the tide began to turn.

England struggled to cope with their extra weight in the loose game when Barry crossed before another sloppy formation allowed Ramos to break down the field to collect Ficko and score.

However, Borthwick's side remained true to their attacking intent, and Ford's deft hands set up Freeman to score in the corner.

He added the conversion to take a one-point lead, but moments later Ramos scored the biggest kick of the tournament from 46 metres.

Signs of promise for England's improvement

England's campaign faced a tough road against Scotland at Murrayfield before sparking into life with a stunning last-gasp win to deny Ireland the chance to win two Grand Slams.

The visitors promised to continue the attacking display they put on last weekend in France but, for more than half an hour, they appeared to be back in type as Alex Mitchell and Ford were more often searching the area with their boots on rather than running with the ball in their hands.

With 33 minutes on the clock, France had covered 330 meters compared to England's 166 metres.

But when Slade gave the French defense eyes to pass Lawrence to the line, England got the kick they needed.

The pace of the ball improved after the break as the attackers created holes in the French defense to open up space, which Lawrence took advantage of once again.

Ellis Genge produced one of his best performances in an England shirt as he towered past the much heavier Uini Atonio in the crowd before creating a break for Ben Earl to advance into midfield with a brilliant pass before taking touch.

Earl got going in the lead-up to Smith's try and England began to look comfortable. Perhaps what would please Borthwick and attack coach Richard Wigglesworth most was England's tenacity and ambition in possession – despite France's return to the game – demonstrated by Freeman's late effort.

Promising signs after an encouraging tournament in their first campaign at the beginning of a new World Cup cycle.

Formations

France: Wild. Benaud, Fico, Deporter, Bel Bary; Ramos, Lou Jarric; Bailly, Marchand, Atonio, Flament, Miavo, Croce, Ollivon, Aldrete (captain).

Replacements: Mauvaka, S Taofifenua, Colombe, R Taofifenua, Romat, Boudehent, Lucu, Moefana.

England: Forbank. Freeman, Slade, Lawrence, Daly; Ford Mitchell. Genge, George (Captain), Cole, Itoje, Martin, Chisum, Underhill, Earl.

Replacements: Dunn, Marler, Stewart, Roots, Dombrandt, Kerr, M. Smith, Tuilagi.

Match officials

to rule: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Touch judges: Nika Amashokeli (Georgia) and Damian Schneider (Uruguay)

Tmo: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)

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