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England clinch Grand Slam with polished win over ragged France

England clinch Grand Slam with polished win over ragged France

20/03/2016 at 00:07

Six Nations champions England secured their first Grand Slam since 2003 with a professional 31-21 win over France at the Stade de France in Paris.

Having landed the Six Nations title and triple crown with a 25-21 win over Wales at Twickenham last week, England were never really in danger in outclassing a French side who performed better than their 29-18 defeat in Scotland six days ago, but were still relatively mediocre in finishing second bottom of the Six Nations table.

England's players celebrate after the match against France.

England's players celebrate after the match against France.Reuters

France vs England

France vs EnglandAFP

Hartley - later named man of the match - becomes the first man to captain a Grand Slam-winning England side, the 13th in the country's rich history in the Six Nations, since former coach Martin Johnson managed the feat 13 years ago.

It was the same year that England won the World Cup in Australia.

Their next major assignment is the tour of Australia in the summer with the first match of a three-match Test series against last year's World Cup finalists on June 11 in Brisbane followed by a meeting in Melbourne on June 18 and the final Test on June 25 in Sydney.

"I am very proud of the boys," said coach Jones.

"We weren't at our best today, but we battled through and really deserved the victory. It is a great achievement by the team. I always had confidence in the team."

"I thought in the first half we sat back a little bit, and were probably more worried about the result than playing, and the second half we were much more positive in the way we played."

They will be buoyed by their performance in Paris. England were always superior, and enjoyed a 17-12 lead at half-time courtesy of tries from Danny Care and Dan Cole with Maxime Machenaud managing to keep the home side in touch via four penalties in an overall total of seven.

Despite plenty of honest effort, France would not breach the English try-line as Anthony Watson bounded over for another try before two more Owen Farrell pens - to go with two penalties and two conversions in the first half - completed the task.

Coming only six months after England's humiliation at their own World Cup, it felt like a minor miracle.

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