Live Commentary: France 26-24 England - as it happened

Louis Picamoles of France closes down Chris Robshaw of England during the RBS Six Nations match between France and England at Stade de France on February 1, 2014
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Relive Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report of England's 26-24 defeat to France in the Six Nations.

England got their Six Nations campaign off to a losing start on Saturday as they were narrowly beaten 26-24 by France in Paris.

The visitors recovered from going behind early on as they got themselves into a 24-19 lead with just seven minutes remaining.

However, a late try from Gael Fickou saw Les Bleus take the spoils from a thrilling encounter between the two old rivals.

Read Sports Mole's minute-by-minute report below to find out how all of the action unfolded at the Stade de France.


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4.31pmHello there and welcome to Sports Mole's live text coverage of this evening's Six Nations clash between France and England in Paris. There's nothing like a match between these old rivals to whet the appetite.

4.33pmRight, let's have a look at the teams...

4.35pmFRANCE: Dulin, Huget, Bastareaud, Fofana, Medard, Plisson, Doussain,; Domingo, Kayser, Mas, Flanquart Pape, Nyanga, Le Roux, Picmoles

4.37pmFRANCE REPLACEMENTS: Szarzewski, Forestier, Slimani, MaestrI, Burban, Chouly, Machenaud, Fickou

4.40pmFrance have a taken the bold step of giving Jules Plisson his debut this evening at fly-half. The 22-year-old, who plays his club rugby with Stade Francais, will be joined at scrum-half by Jean-Marc Doussain. Elsewhere, Pascal Pape captains the team in place of the injured Thierry Dusautoir.

4.42pmENGLAND: Brown; Nowell, Burrell, Twelvetrees, May; Farrell, Care; Marler, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Lawes, Wood, Robshaw, Vunipola

4.43pmENGLAND REPLACEMENTS: Youngs, M Vunipola, Thomas, Attwood, Morgan, Dickson, Barritt, Goode

4.45pmThe big team news for England is that Exeter wing Jack Nowell and Northampton centre Luther Burrell will make their debuts tonight. Coach Stuart Lancaster has made four changes in total to the side that lost to New Zealand at Twickenham in November as Jonny May and Danny Care also come in.

4.48pmUPDATE: This year's tournament got underway earlier this afternoon when holders Wales earned a hard-fought 23-15 victory over Italy in Cardiff. Not as routine a win for Warren Gatland's side as many were expecting, but a win nonetheless.

4.51pmHEAD TO HEAD: England have the better record when it comes to past meetings between these sides, winning 53 out of 97 matches. Stuart Lancaster's team beat Les Bleus 23-13 at Twickenham last year after recording a narrow 24-22 victory in Paris back in 2012.

4.55pmNeedless to say, the Stade de France is packed to the rafters as we await the teams to emerge onto the pitch. The atmosphere is electric.

4.57pm

1 minKICKOFF! Right, the pre-match pleasantries have been done and it will be France to get us underway. Here we go!

1 minTRY! FRANCE 5-0 ENGLAND (HUGET)

1 minWhat an incredible start for France as Huget touches down inside the opening 30 seconds! The ball bounced kindly for the Frenchman, who was allowed to run into the corner. If there's any consolation for England it's that the conversion drifts wide of the posts.

5 minFRANCE 5-3 ENGLAND (FARRELL, PENALTY)

5 minIt's been a great response by England as they earn themselves a penalty in a decent position following some persistent pressure. Farrell steps up to take it and makes no mistake as the ball sails between the posts. That should give the visitors some confidence after that early setback.

8 minIt's been a frantic start to this match. This time it's France who are on the attack with Fofana trying to sneak into the corner for his team's second try. However, Care is there to bundle his opponent into touch as England win back possession.

10 minFRANCE 8-3 ENGLAND (DOUSSAIN, PENALTY)

10 minFrance extend their lead as Doussain kicks a simple penalty through the posts. Plenty of action so far in Paris.

13 minEngland have been their own worst enemies so far in many respects thanks to come silly little errors. Billy Vunipola is the latest to come unstuck as he fumbles the ball inside his own half. However, the visitors survive another wave of French attack.

15 minEngland's Jonny May went off earlier to get treatment for a broken nose, but he's not able to come back on. That's a real shame for him. Alex Goode is on in his place.

17 minTRY! FRANCE 13-3 ENGLAND (HUGET)

17 minWhat a nightmare for England. Dulin's chip over the top bounces awkwardly between a couple of players in white shirts before Huget takes advantage to go over the line with ease. However, Les Bleus are again unsuccessful with their attempt at the conversion.

19 minNow we have a fight between the two sets of players. It all started with a late tackle from Wood on Plisson. The Frenchman took exception to that before everyone piled in. The referee has a brief chat with both men but no cards are shown.

21 min

22 minFRANCE 16-3 ENGLAND (DOUSSAIN, PENALTY)

22 minThis is getting unpleasant for England now. They were enjoying the better share of possession not too long ago, but now it's France who are in the ascendancy. The hosts know that the English defence has shown a soft underbelly so far and they're looking to exploit it further as Doussain adds three more points with the boot.

25 minWhat a chance for England! Goode does brilliantly to jink his way down the wing but he drops the ball forward before Twelvetrees touches down. While that was enterprising play from the Saracens back, the French defended well there.

28 minOh, England. A handling error from France gives them the scrum just inside the opposition half, but they collapse it as France regain possession. There are plenty of errors starting to creep into the contest.

31 minEngland really need to get some points on the board before the break, though it's just not happening for them at the moment. Just as the visitors look like they're building up a head of steam, a mistake gives France breathing space.

35 minEngland get themselves into another great position as a driving maul gets them to within touching distance of the try line. They're huffing and puffing, but it's France who eventually turn over the ball and hoof it down the pitch. Some points there would have been just the tonic for Stuart Lancaster's men.

36 minTRY! FRANCE 16-8 ENGLAND (BROWN)

36 minThere we go! England score their first try of the tournament through Mike Brown. Some quick thinking from Care sees Vunipola receive the ball out on the left wing before Brown reaches out to touch down with French bodies around him. That should give the visitors a real boost, although Farrell fails to make the conversion.

40 minHALF TIME: FRANCE 16-8 ENGLAND

5.50pmThe last play of the half sees Farrell kick his drop-goal attempt wide of the posts, but England will be pleased with their overall finish to the opening 40 minutes. France got off to an explosive start and looked to be on course for a comfortable evening. However, the visitors fought back and Mike Brown's try has given them real hope.

5.53pmFrance's Huget was undoubtedly the star of that first half thanks to his two tries. He may have benefited from kind bounces on both occasions, but he will not care one bit. While Les Bleus have had that kind of luck on their side, England have had to work hard to create their opportunities.

5.56pm

5.59pmUPDATE: Wales got the defence of their Six Nations title off to a winning start earlier today as they defeated Italy 23-15 in Cardiff. You can read all about that entertaining encounter with Sports Mole's match report right here.

41 minSECOND HALF UNDERWAY! The players are back out and it will be England who kick us off for this second period. France have made a change in their ranks as Antoine Burban enters the action in place of Bernard Le Roux.

42 minSo close for England, who have got off to a cracking start. Care tries to wriggle the ball over the line for a try following some good pressure but it's not given after going to the TMO. He just fell short as French bodies crowded around him.

43 minFRANCE 16-11 ENGLAND (FARRELL, PENALTY)

43 minHowever! England are awarded a penalty that Farrell dispatches with relative ease. The visitors are now just five points adrift of their opponents, who have brought on Szarzewski and Maestri for Kayser and Flanquart.

46 minThe pendulum keeps swinging one way then the other in this match. France put some pressure on the visitors, but it's England who come away with the turnover. Stuart Lancaster's men started the game looking dodgy at the back, though they've really fronted up since then.

48 minTRY! FRANCE 16-16 ENGLAND (BURRELL)

48 minCONVERSION! FRANCE 16-18 ENGLAND (FARRELL)

48 minWhat a comeback from England as Luther Burrell touches down on his debut! Billy Vunipola did the hard work as he burst through with pace and power before offloading to Burrell to go between the posts. It gets better for the visitors with Farrell converting to put his side ahead for the first time in the match.

51 minEngland almost extend their lead further through Care, who charges down a kick before kicking the ball twice down the field. However, he eventually knocks the ball on as France breath a big sigh of relief. Care allows himself a cheeky smile. He knew it was close.

53 minThere is a breathless pace to this game at the moment. It's all about attack and counter-attack, though neither side can get a proper hold in terms of possession. It may be a bit scrappy, but it's making for an riveting encounter.

56 min

56 minDROP GOAL! FRANCE 16-21 ENGLAND (CARE)

56 minCheeky stuff from Danny Care as he slots over a drop goal from close range. The French weren't expecting it, turned off, and were duly punished. Clever thinking from Care.

58 minTom Youngs comes on for England as Dylan Hartley leaves the action. We're entering the final 20 minutes in Paris. What twists and turns will we see between now and the final whistle?

60 min

61 minDanny Care is the latest England player to be withdrawn as Lee Dickson comes on in his place. Care has been superb this evening, a real thorn in the side of the French.

64 minThe momentum continues to go back and forth, though France are starting to look very tired as they try to get themselves back into this match. Can England exploit the lethargy that is creeping into the French? The visitors still look full of energy.

66 minBarritt and Morgan are now on for England, while Billy Vunipola and Nowell come off. Just under 15 minutes left to play in the French capital.

68 minThere is usually plenty of talk about referees in rugby so it's only fair to say that Nigel Owens has had an excellent game this evening. He's been firm but fair and allowed the two teams to play an entertaining contest. Meanwhile, Lawes is replaced by Atwood for England.

70 minFRANCE 19-21 ENGLAND (MACHENAUD)

70 minIs this the start of a French comeback? They win a penalty right in front of the posts which Machenaud kicks over with ease. It's going to be a nervy final 10 minutes in Paris.

72 min

73 minFRANCE 19-24 ENGLAND (GOODE, PENALTY)

73 minThat'll take some of the pressure off England as Goode kicks an easy penalty between the posts as Farrell receives treatment. The visitors will be keen to just run down the clock now as the final whistle edges closer.

76 minLess than five minutes to play as 'Swing Low, Sweet Chariot' rings out around the Stade de France. This would be a massive win for Stuart Lancaster's men if they can see it out. It looked like it was going to be a very different sort of night when France raced ahead early on in the match.

78 minTRY! FRANCE 24-24 ENGLAND (FICKOU)

78 minCONVERSION! FRANCE 26-24 ENGLAND (MACHENAUD)

78 minIncredible scenes at the Stade de France as Fickou sells the England defence a dummy to run through and touch down under the posts. Machenaud steps up to make the conversion and France lead!

80 minFULL TIME: FRANCE 26-24 ENGLAND

6.55pmThe full-time whistle goes and it's heartbreak for England, who lose 26-24 to France. The visitors looked on course for a win, but Les Bleus snatched the victory right at the death thanks to Gael Fickou's try. What an incredible match at the Stade de France, a superb advert for Six Nations rugby.

6.57pmAnyway, that's all from me but you can keep up to date with all of the reaction from tonight's game right here on Sports Mole. We hope that you've enjoyed our coverage. Thank you for joining us. Goodnight!

England coach Stuart Lancaster looks on before the First Test match between Argentina and England on June 8, 2013
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