Stadium: Twickenham Stadium, London
Tournament: Guinness Six Nations
Date: Sunday, 10th February 2019, 15:00
England host France in their opening home fixture of the 2019 Guinness Six Nations. The atmosphere for this year’s “Le Crunch” will as ever, be electric, fuelled by England’s win in Dublin.
Ireland were overwhelmed on their own turf with England seizing on the home side’s slow start. The game plan devised by Eddie Jones proved exceptional with the players executing it almost perfectly.
It’s set up this game perfectly. England are now favourites for the 2019 Guinness Six Nations – 8/11 with BetVictor – with the usual high expectations within the home crowd.
Mako Vunipola was pivotal to England’s success with 31 tackles – the most of any player and four more than team-mate Mark Wilson – as was the defence which claimed 64% territory despite Ireland enjoying more of the ball.
Discipline will be as vital against France as it was in Dublin. The French are likely to give Owen Farrell plenty of kicking practice such is their propensity to concede penalties.
France, by contrast, went from the sublime to the ridiculous in the space of 80 minutes. 16 – 0 ahead at the interval, they contrived to not only throw that lead away but also the game with George North scoring with five minutes to go.
Individual errors from Yoann Huget and Sebastien Vahaamahina cost Les Bleus dearly making the loss to Wales their ninth in Jacques Brunel’s 12 test matches in charges.
The contrast in the two separate forty minutes in Paris was staggering. A vibrant and classically French first-half gave way to a slovenly performance in the second.
Changes have been rung but the pack still remains the tournament’s heaviest at not far short of 950kg. England’s technique must be consistent throughout the game. Last weekend, both sides won all their own scrums with two penalties resulting from those wins.
In the ruck, England won 85 of 86 in Dublin but face Wenceslas Lauret whose 24 cleanouts were four more than anyone else managed in the first round of games.
France won last season’s corresponding fixture 22 – 16 in Paris with a strong second-half performance after the two nations were level 9 – 9 at half-time.
The last time Les Bleus visited London, England won 19 -16.
France’s last win at Twickenham in the Six Nations came in 2005, 18 – 17.
Only one of the last five saw over 50 points in total with three failing to reach 40 points.
Overall, England leads the head-to-head with 57 wins to 40 out of 104 meetings. In England, the home nation won 33 to 11 with 5 drawn.
England Team News
England’s team is:
15-Elliot Daly, 14-Chris Ashton, 13-Henry Slade, 12-Manu Tuilagi, 11-Jonny May, 10-Owen Farrell (capt), 9-Ben Youngs; 1-Mako Vunipola, 2-Jamie George, 3-Kyle Sinckler, 4-Courtney Lawes, 5-George Kruis, 6-Mark Wilson, 7-Tom Curry, 8-Billy Vunipola
Replacements: 16-Luke Cowan-Dickie, 17-Ben Moon, 18-Dan Cole, 19-Joe Launchbury, 20-Nathan Hughes, 21-Dan Robson, 22-George Ford, 23-Jack Nowell
France Team News
France’s team is:
15-Yoann Huget, 14-Damian Penaud, 13-Mathieu Bastareaud, 12-Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11-Gael Fickou, 10-Camille Lopez, 9-Morgan Parra; 1-Jefferson Poirot, 2-Guilhem Guirado (captain), 3-Demba Bamba, 4-Sebastien Vahaamahina, 5-Felix Lambey, 6-Yacouba Camara, 7-Arthur Iturria, 8-Louis Picamoles
Replacements: 16-Pierre Bourgarit, 17-Dany Priso, 18-Dorian Aldegheri, 19-Paul Willemse, 20-Gregory Alldritt, 21-Antoine Dupont, 22-Romain Ntamack, 23-Thomas Ramos
England are rightly favourites for this match after last weekend’s performance. However, they will need to be completely focused upon winning otherwise the French will take full advantage of loose possession.
Despite their woeful second half, it shouldn’t be forgotten Les Bleus swept Wales aside to lead 16 – 0 at half-time. It’s easy to cast this as a one-sided game but it has the potential to be far more difficult.
Nine of the last ten finished with a margin of victory of ten or fewer points. We like England to win by 1 – 10 points at 5/2 with Paddy Power.
- Under 41.5 points in total: 5/4 with Paddy Power
- England to win: 2/11 with Smarkets
- France to win: 33/1 with William Hill
- First scoring play – England penalty: 15/8 with Bet365
- Total points scored by France – Under 14.5: Evens with Betfair