Joy Neville praised for "courageous" call that delivered English victory
ENGLAND 23-20 FRANCE
England ended French Grand Slam hopes and several of their players answered the critics after a "courageous" Joy Neville call saw them produce a comeback win.
France scored a try through their superb scrumhalf Antoine Dupont in the first minute but England responded with an Anthony Watson score and two Owen Farrell penalties.
The French fancied their chances, however, and produced an immense set-play off an attacking lineout that produced a try in the corner for Damian Penaud.
28 seconds of pure bliss from France 🇫🇷pic.twitter.com/kFREl9NGMX
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 13, 2021
That made it 17-13 and a Matthieu Jalibert penalty, on 50 minutes, saw Les Bleus lead by seven points.
They just needed one more score to give themselves that bit more daylight, but mistakes started to creep in. A bizarre Brice Dulin drop goal attempt from 45 metres out, which dropped well short, summed up how the occasion got to them.
France's defence, though, was excellent and kept England at arm's length until late in the game. Penaud summed that up when his strong counter-ruck sent Ellis Genge flying and won his side a penalty.
England kept coming, though, and the match-winning moment arrived on 75 minutes when England piled into the French after winning a lineout and going through the phases. Maro Itoje picked and went, but it looked - on first viewing - that he had been held up by two French players.
Joy Neville looked closely at the footage and, in her role as Television Match Official, alerted referee Andrew Brace that she was certain Itoje had scored.
— Virgin Media Sport (@VMSportIE) March 13, 2021
Brace went with his TMO's call and England were in the lead. Owen Farrell's conversion made it 23-20 and England held on to win their second game of the championship. Neville is a former Munster and Ireland international and she has officiating in men's rugby since 2016.
"A brilliant decision from Joy Neville," declared Ronan O'Gara on Virgin Media, after the game. "A courageous decision to overrule the referee."
Our man of the match: Julien Marchand (France)