A hat-trick from in-form winger Jonny May, along with scores from Henry Slade, Owen Farrell and a penalty try, lead England to a 44-8 thrashing of France, to bolster their grand slam aspirations.
Head coach Eddie Jones made a surprising change from last week’s win over Ireland, as Chris Ashton, despite not playing in the Six Nations since 2012, started instead of Jack Nowell.
Jones was rewarded for his bold change, as Ashton’s performance was exceptional. He gave England a whole different aspect of attack and he matched France’s physical players throughout.
Ashton set up May’s final try, with an excellent and precise grubber kick in behind the French defensive line, which meant the Leicester Tigers man could go over to complete his hat-trick, on what was a special man of the match performance from May.
The tactic of using the kicks in behind worked a treat as England’s unpredictability with the ball in hand, meant the French defence endured a horrific day. All six of England’s tries were caused by precise grubber kicks in behind the French defence.
France head coach Jacques Brunel opted to start the powerful Mathieu Bastareaud in the centres, in order to match the physicality of dangerous England centre Manu Tuilangi. Basteraud’s presence was enough to eliminate Tuilangi from having a huge impact on the game but Basteraud on the ball was also ineffective, which meant Brunel’s big decision backfired.
Again France looked vulnerable in defence as all of England’s tries were avoidable if they had an organised defence.
The French also continuously made errors at the breakdown, leading to cheap penalties which will infuriate Brunel.
Next up for France is a game at home to a much improved Scotland side, which could easily be a potential banana skin for Brunel’s side. To lose the first three games of the campaign would be shambolic for France, therefore a win is a must next Saturday.
England are flying and will be relishing their game a week on Saturday, away against arch-rivals Wales as they aim to keep their hopes of a grand slam alive.