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19th Mar 2016

England stick it to every single critic to claim Grand Slam glory in Paris


Patrick McCarry

From World Cup zeroes to Six Nations heroes in just five months.

Eddie Jones has delivered a Six Nations, Triple Crown and Grand Slam in his first three months on the England job.

The Australian has had his fair share of critics for his bombastic, antagonistic, outspoken views but he has built a fine team who are doing the business on the pitch.

Having accounted for Scotland, Italy, Ireland and Wales, England edged out France in a tense Parisien thriller.

England, who claimed the championship after France lost to Scotland last weekend, sealed the Slam with a performance of heart, courage and clinical finishing.

France had scrum-half Maxime Machenaud to thank for all 21 of their points but England’s ability to score tries was the deciding factor.

Dan Cole and a wonderful sniping Danny Care score gave them some daylight on the scoreboard at half-time. Still, France fought on.

It took an Anthony Watson try in the corner to get English noses further in front.

England lost captain Dylan Hartley to concussion in the final 10 minutes. It was somewhat fitting, then, that Chris Robshaw – the man who lost the captaincy after England were dumped out of the pool stages – led the team to victory after a frenetic finish.

Owen Farrell’s late penalty put England seven points clear and they fought tooth, nail and every fleck of skin to secure their first Slam since 2003.

Robshaw was actually taken off after 76 minutes as Jones gave another nod to the future by bringing Jack Clifford on.

It was almost as if Jones was saying ‘There’s more to come from us yet’.

Farrell’s late, late penalty sealed the deal. At 31-21, there was no coming back.

Sweet Low, Sweet Chariot rung out across Stade de France. The English celebrations will last long into the night and, we’d wager, a good chunk of Sunday and Monday.

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