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Six Nations 2024: England are heading in the 'right direction', says Steve Borthwick

Six Nations 2024: England are heading in the 'right direction', says Steve Borthwick

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

England national team coach Steve Borthwick said that England lost an exciting match in France but proved its ability to compete with the best teams in the world.

France won 33-31 thanks to a late Thomas Ramos penalty as England finished third in the Six Nations.

“I'm proud, but disappointed we didn't get the win,” Borthwick told BBC 5 Live.

“We have shown in the last two weeks that we are competing with the top four teams again.

“We don't just want to compete, we want to win. It's a step in the right direction.”

England won just two matches and finished fourth in Borthwick's first Six Nations campaign as head coach last year.

They have introduced several new players this year after finishing third in the World Cup.

Over the opening three rounds of the Six Nations, a new-look Borthwick side scored just six tries as they struggled in attack.

However, seven tries against Ireland and France, ranked second and fourth in the world, and ranked first and second in the Six Nations, show significant progress.

Midfielder Ollie Lawrence scored either side of the break to give England the advantage in Lyon before tries from Marcus Smith and Tommy Freeman looked to have sealed victory.

However, Ramos scored in the dying moments to deny England second place in the table, although Borthwick's side secured their first bonus points of the tournament after scoring four tries and losing by less than seven points.

Borthwick added: “I'm really disappointed for the players, they worked so hard and for the fans who were fantastic.”

“I'm very proud, you can see how the shirt has become lighter.

“Sometimes you have to keep fighting and we saw that. If we had had another chance we could have achieved this result.”

“Déjà vu” from Pollard's penalty kick in the World Cup

Captain Jimmy George said France's win reminded him of last fall's World Cup semi-final defeat to South Africa, when Handre Pollard's kick from a similar position eliminated the tournament.

“I'm upset about the result. There was a lot to be happy about and very proud of,” he said.

“Fair play to France for coming back and getting the penalty at the end and fair play to Ramos for bringing it down.

“There was a bit of a repeat of the penalty scored by Pollard a few months ago. It will always be difficult to take but there is a lot to be proud of over the last few weeks.

“We really feel like this team is on an upward curve and we're going somewhere.”

The Muslim hooker, 33, oversaw her first Six Nations tournament as captain following Owen Farrell's decision to step away from the international game.

George, whose mother Jane died before the team's match against Scotland, paid tribute to Borthwick and his team-mates for their support.

“This has been the highlight of my career [captaincy]”It's something special with these special people, the staff and the players,” George told BBC Radio 5 Live.

“It's a young, hungry group and I'm very happy to have played a part in that.

“It was a difficult period off the field, but the group rallied around me and looked after me, which is the sign of a very special group.”

England results in the Six Nations Championship

England 2024 Six Nations

Lawrence (2), Smith, Freeman

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