Chabal storms through to give France victory
Sebastien Chabal scored a 70th-minute try as France beat England 21-15 in a World Cup warm-up match at Twickenham on Saturday.
Number eight Chabal, who had come on as a replacement, piled through three England defenders to clinch the match, leaving Josh Lewsey, Nick Abendanon and Olly Barkley in his wake.
In a tight match, far removed from England’s record demolition against Wales a week ago, flyhalf Olly Barkley kicked four penalties to stake his claim for a place in the World Cup squad of 30, which will be announced on Tuesday.
He could well be named as England’s understudy for Jonny Wilkinson after not missing a place kick in the match.
Ben Kay and Simon Shaw helped England take advantage of a poor French line-out but the hosts were let down by some poor handling at crucial stages of the match.
France lost Yannick Jauzion to a back injury on the morning of the match, with Damien Traille coming in for the experienced centre.
“The result was not our priority,” said Chabal.
“We wanted to play our rugby which we have worked on for the last five weeks. It wasn’t perfect because we lost a few line-outs.”
England skipper Mike Catt said it had been a disappointing outing.
“The commitment was there but the execution let us down,” said Catt.
“They closed us down very well. We were rusty as the team has just been put together but we need to iron out our mistakes.”
Barkley got the scoreboard on the move for England with a penalty in the ninth minute but Fabien Pelous, just returning from injury, gave France the lead when he scored in the corner three minutes later.
It was the perfect way for Pelous to mark his 111th cap, which equalled Philippe Sella’s French record.
A David Skrela penalty increased the advantage but the French defence was under pressure in the first half, making almost twice the number of tackles put in by the English.
England controlled the line-out in the first half, with Kay outstanding as he took advantage of some wayward throwing by French skipper Raphael Ibanez, but they were let down by handling errors.
James Haskell knocked on to ruin a promising move after England had pushed the French scrum backwards and they relied on the boot of Barkley to keep them in touch.
Barkley gave England the lead on 33 minutes after a big hit by Jamie Noon on David Marty had forced Aurelien Rougerie into obstruction and the two number tens, Skrela and Barkley, swapped kicks as England took a 12-11 lead into the interval.
France had much more possession in the second period but England’s defence, led by Noon, held firm.
Noon smashed into Marty and Traille and when the hosts got some possession, in the third quarter of the match, they lost it through slack handling.
The French back row, with Serge Betsen to the fore, slowed the ball down skilfully to stop England moving it wide, so replacement scrumhalf Andy Gomarsall dropped a goal to put his side 15-11 in front in the 56th minute, but a penalty and Chabal’s charge put France back in control.
England had a good chance late on when Phil Vickery thundered towards the line, just before Chabal’s try but he was cut down by a superb tackle from Dimitri Szarzewski.
The two sides will meet again in Marseille next Saturday.—Sapa-AFP.