Record defeat for England at Twickenham

England were overwhelmed 53-10 by France at Twickenham, a record defeat that removed them from Guinness Six Nations title contention and provided an alarming reality check for Steve Borthwick’s reconstruction project.

Trailing 27-3 at half-time – their highest interval deficit at Twickenham in a game – they found themselves in the midst of a full-blown crisis after being torn apart by attack.

Thomas Ramos, Thibaud Flament and Charles Ollivon had crossed with alarming ease and England looked utterly lost as fault lines opened up in their defence, kicks, collapse and discipline.

The substitutions of Owen Farrell and Alex Mitchell early in the second half came amid a riot that gave Freddie Steward a try but was short-lived as Flament, Ollivon and Damian Penaud pushed France further forward.

The rift between the rivals was embarrassing as the World Cup hosts recorded their first Six Nations win at Twickenham since 2005, gloriously bouncing back into shape after much of the tournament.

And it’s only going to get harder for Borthwick’s men as, after taking on the team that sits second in the world rankings, they have to travel to Dublin next Saturday to take on Grand Slam contenders Ireland, who occupied the summit.

Marcus Smith did all he could after edging Farrell halfway through, but with his forwards dismantled at every turn he was powerless to stop the collapse.

For all the talk of England playing at pace, it was France who sped off the blocks and by the time lock Paul Willemse got out of the tackle they were gone with Ethan Dumortier sending Ramos into the left corner.

Ramos added a penalty to reward another Les Bleus attack and with just 10 minutes left the hosts were already looking bleak.

England were paralyzed by their discipline in the collapse and apart from a powerful run from Steward, they struggled to impress when it started to rain.

Advances were made through the Maul but when Jack van Poortvliet fumbled again the progress was lost and the familiar sight of France raging in lower field resumed.

Antoine Dupont gained influence as he weaved his magic around the ruck, but it was the power of strikers François Cros and Flament that did the damage for the next try.

Flament crossed in the 26th minute but it was too easy for the ban as passive England were overwhelmed in contact.

And their scrum defense was terribly exposed in first-half injury time when Gregory Alldritt charged forward and saw blueshirts lined up in support, bringing Ollivon down.

England needed to act quickly and hope seemed to be buoyed when Smith delivered a terrific kick on the run for Max Malins, but the wing knocked over the line.

It was now France’s defense that was disintegrating and after waves of attacks it was breached when Steward ran a tackle to slide over it.

England quickly renewed their attack but the comeback faltered when a ferocious rebound fooled their backcourt defense and allowed Romain Ntamack to flick the ball to Flament, who scored.

And there was more unhappiness when Smith was run over his line by Dupont as he covered a kick, and Ollivon landed as he released the ball before two late attempts from wing Penaud drove the final nail in England’s coffin.

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