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England edge France as Scotland stun Ireland

Ben Te’o scores England’s winning try against France during their Six Nations opener.

Ben Te’o scores England’s winning try against France during their Six Nations opener.

England overcame a poor first half to grind down France for a 19-16 victory to open the defence of their Six Nations title yesterday, setting a national record of 15 successive victories in the process.

England were lucky to be level at 9-9 at half-time and France would have been frustrated that their livelier showing failed to produce a try in the opening 40minutes.

England were transformed after the break but, after edging ahead with another Owen Farrell penalty, a rare French foray produced the first try of the game for replacement prop Rabah Slimani after an hour.

England’s replacements then poured on to bring a new energy, with one of them, centre Ben Te’o, scoring the decisive try which Farrell converted to restore the lead with 10 minutes to go.

The current side had shared the record of 14 successive victories with Clive Woodward’s team in 2002-03.

Earlier, Scotland hung on to upset Ireland 27-22 in a pulsating match at Murrayfield and secure their first opening day win in the Six Nations for over a decade.

Two late penalties from captain Greig Laidlaw snatched a victory for the Scots that was founded on a dazzling first-half display which pushed the hosts into a 21-8 lead .

Fullback Stuart Hogg, the player of last year’s tournament, scored Scotland’s first two tries and centre Alex Dunbar dotted down for an unconventional third in a set move from a lineout.

Ireland winger Keith Earls crossed for Ireland in the opening period while lock Iain Henderson and flyhalf Paddy Jackson, a late replacement for Johnny Sexton, bagged tries in Ireland’s second-half fightback which earned them a losing bonus point.

“That was a cracking game,” Hogg told the BBC. “We switched off a bit in the start of the second half but the boys are delighted with that result and a great way to kick off the Six Nations here at Murrayfield.

“The boys stuck to it but credit to Ireland - they were fantastic in the second half,” Hogg added.

Playing today
Italy vs Wales - 15.00

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