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France 33-31 England: Thomas Ramos kicks late penalty as hosts finish second

Guinness Six Nations: France v England

France: (16) 33

Tries: Le Garrec, Barre, Fickou Pen: Ramos 4 Con: Ramos 3

England: (10) 31

Tries: Lawrence 2, Smith, Freeman Pen: Ford Con: Ford 3

Thomas Ramos kicked the winning penalty from the halfway line as France edged England in a seven-try thriller to finish second in the 2024 Six Nations.

After Ireland's title win in Dublin, the hosts led 16-3 in Lyon before Ollie Lawrence scored either side of the break to hand England the advantage.

Marcus Smith stretched their lead but Leo Barre and Gael Fickou hit back.

George Ford converted Tommy Freeman's late try as momentum swung England's way again but Ramos had the final say.

Both sides had their title ambitions dashed before kick-off after Ireland retained their crown with victory over Scotland, but the tournament finale proved to be one of the most entertaining games.

France's victory was their first at home since exiting the World Cup quarter-finals with defeat by South Africa in Paris last year.

England's two bonus points for trailing France by fewer than seven points and scoring four tries for the first time in this campaign ensured they finished above Scotland in third.

Despite being behind in all five games at half-time, their best Six Nations return since Steve Borthwick took charge as head coach follows a third-place finish at last year's World Cup.

The pendulum swings back and forth in Lyon

Ford and Ramos exchanged early penalties before Nolann le Garrec scored the opening try with a clinical French move he initially started inside his own 22.

The scrum-half, deputising for France talisman Antoine Dupont, capitalised on England's failure to retain their own line-out to fire the ball wide as the hosts got around their visitors for Barre to charge down the field and pass back inside to Le Garrec.

Ramos' assured boot provided the cushion but France's continued attacking intent seemed to force England's hand as Lawrence powered through on the stroke of half-time for his first try after a neat pass by midfield partner Henry Slade.

The centre then doubled his tally moments after the interval by stretching over the line after some fast phase play.

Traditional fly-half Smith, on at full-back to cover the injured George Furbank, finished another sweeping team move as England looked to avenge last year's record home defeat by Les Bleus.

But the hosts remained in the fight and, as they did to overpower Wales last week, they emptied their heavyweight bench as the tide began to turn.

England struggled to contend with their extra weight in the loose as Barre crossed before another failed line-out allowed Ramos to hack downfield for Fickou to gather and score.

Borthwick's side stayed true to their intent to attack, however, and Ford's deft hands set up Freeman to score in the corner.

He added the conversion for a one-point lead but moments later Ramos landed the biggest kick of the tournament from 46m.

Signs of promise for improving England

England's campaign hit a road bump against Scotland at Murrayfield before sparking into life with a stunning last-gasp win to deny Ireland the shot at a double Grand Slam.

The visitors promised to follow up on last weekend's attacking display in France but, for over half an hour, they appeared to revert to type as Alex Mitchell and Ford often looked for territory with the boot rather than to run with ball in hand.

With 33 minutes on the clock France had covered 330m compared to England's 166m.

But as Slade gave France's defence the eyes to feed Lawrence flat to the line, England had the kick-start they needed.

The speed of ball improved after the break as the forwards punched holes in the French defence to manoeuvre space out wide, which Lawrence capitalised on once more.

Ellis Genge produced one of his best displays in an England shirt as he impressed against the much heavier Uini Atonio in the scrum before creating a break for Ben Earl to power through in midfield with a neat pass before taking contact.

Earl burst through in the build-up to Smith's try and England started to look comfortable. What will please Borthwick and attack coach Richard Wigglesworth most, perhaps, was England's perseverance with their ambition in possession - despite France powering back into the game - demonstrated with Freeman's late try.

Promising signs after an encouraging tournament in their first campaign at the start of a new World Cup cycle.

Line-ups

France: Barre; Penaud, Fickou, Depoortere, Bielle-Biarrey; Ramos, Le Garrec; Baille, Marchand, Atonio, Flament, Meafou, Cros, Ollivon, Alldritt (capt).

Replacements: Mauvaka, S Taofifenua, Colombe, R Taofifenua, Roumat, Boudehent, Lucu, Moefana.

England: Furbank; Freeman, Slade, Lawrence, Daly; Ford, Mitchell; Genge, George (capt), Cole, Itoje, Martin, Chessum, Underhill, Earl.

Replacements: Dan, Marler, Stuart, Roots, Dombrandt, Care, M Smith, Tuilagi.

Match officials

Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)

Touch judges: Nika Amashukeli (Georgia) & Damian Schneider (Uruguay)

TMO: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)