England crash to defeat in Paris

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Exeter Chiefs hooker Luke Cowan-Dickie was used as a second half replacement, but could not help England pull back their deficit against France in their Six Nations opener. Pictures: www.jmpuk.com

By Mark Stevens

Eddie Jones denied England’s sluggish first-half performance in their 24-7 Six Nations Championship loss against France was the consequence of a Rugby World Cup hangover

Jonny May's brace of tries after the break could not drag England back from a shocking start in their opener, with Jones' men conceding 24 unanswered points to Les Bleus thanks to a score from Vincent Rattez and two from captain Charles Ollivon.

Much more was expected from a side who confidently powered their way to the World Cup final with dominating victories over Australia and New Zealand. Instead there were flashbacks to their stuttering showing against South Africa, France gaining the upper hand early on and England struggling for ideas in the face of inspired opponents.

But Jones was at pains to concentrate on how his side managed to pull themselves back into contention in the hostile environment of the Stade de France.

"I don't think we would have seen the response we got in the second half if we had a mental hangover," he said. "It was one of those games where France played well, I think we should be giving France credit. We weren't good enough in the first half and they were very good.

"But I was really pleased with our second half. That was a game that could have been quite ugly for us. The crowd was going nuts, they got a bit of a roll on and I thought the response of our players in the second half was absolutely outstanding."

England's cause early on was not helped by centre Manu Tuilagi imping off after 15 minutes with a groin problem.It is not immediately apparent how serious the injury is, but Jones will be concerned about a player who has spent a fair portion of his career on the treatment table.

"Obviously he's a big gain-line player for us and in those conditions we definitely did miss him, but you've got to be good enough to cope with that," said Jones. "We'll just wait and see. Like all of these things he'll get the appropriate medical check and we'll work it out from there.

"The only thing I know is that unfortunately we're going to go to Scotland with an L next to our name instead of a W which we wanted, but nothing else changes. "We don't want to play another 40 minutes like we played today, that's obvious.

"The result of the game doesn't affect selection. Selection will always be we pick a side that wants to win. Why would a result like this change the 23 for the next game?"

Exeter Chiefs duo Luke Cowan-Dickie and Ollie Devoto were both introduced off the bench during the second half, but they were unable to help England discover the late reward they needed.

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Exeter's Ollie Devoto alongside Willi Heinz at the final whistle.

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