The visitors’ second place was even better, when full-back Shannon Izar made a dizzying run from inside her half, before passing the ball to Cyrielle Barnet who backed up against Ellie Kildunne as France entered the break on cloud nine, leading 15-5. In truth, they should have had an even healthier advantage, if half-fly Caroline Drouin had concealed her early penalty which ultimately cost France the game.
Even their defensive cunning made England look average. After reversing possession on their first two entries into French territory, the Red Roses demanded a response after Izar’s magic moment, but Les Bleues held their nerve, N’Diaye and Lauren Sansus teaming up to hold on. Shaunagh Brown. line.
Even Lark Davies’ score after the break did little to change momentum, which only happened when England crossed the French line with one of their trademark mauls from a lineout, with Poppy Cleall crashing in the 69th minute to trigger the comeback. Harrison’s lack of conversion simply prolonged England’s task, but now they were very different.
Minutes later, Ellie Kildunne appeared to be riding around 10 yards from the France line, but was supported by Claudia Macdonald, who helped propel the seven-on-fifteen star through a sea of blue shirts to rush for another score. This time Scarratt was teeed off and reduced the deficit to one point with seven minutes to spare.
It was too long for France who lacked answers as England came back on them and patiently built the phases with an aura of calm that characterized why they are ranked world No.1 at the moment, perhaps knowing that ‘ a penalty would see them at home and dry. He came in the dying minutes, and Scarratt, who became England’s all-time top scorer earlier this year, has broken the hearts of the French.
Scoring sequence: 0-3 Drouin pen, 5-3 Harrison test, 5-8 big test, 5-10 Barnet test, 5-15 Drouin con, 10-15 Davies test, 10-18 Drouin pen, 10-23 Barnet test, 15- 23 Cleall try, 20-23 Kildunne try, 22-23 Scarratt con, 25-23, Scarratt pen.
England: E Kildunne, C Macdonald, L Tuima (Scarratt, 59), Z Harrison, A Dow, K Daley-McLean (Rowland, 59), L Riley (Hunt, 59), V Cornborough (Cokayne, 59) L Davies, S Brown (Keates, 59), A Ward, M Talling (Perry 59) H Millar-Mills (Packer, 59), A Matthews (Beckett, 59), P Cleall.
France: S Izar, C Banet, E Pignot, J Ulutele, C Bertrand (Tremouliere 55), C Drouin; L Sansus (Bourdon, 63), A Deshaye (Traoré, 62), A Sochat (Menager, 55), R Bernadou (Joyeux, 62), C Ferer, S N’Diaye (Diallo 65), M Mayans, G Hermet, E Fat.
Arbitrator: Hollie Davison (SRU)