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Rugby Union: ASHTON DEALT A BLOW; RUGBY UNION: WORLD CUP WARM-UP...ENGLAND 15 FRANCE 21 It's a French lesson for the English.

Byline: Sam PETERS at Twickenham

SEBASTIEN CHABAL smashed a big hole in England's World Cup plans with a late try to deliver France a morale-boosting victory.

England had looked on course for a hard-earned win before the Sale No.8 steam-rollered his way through some limp tackling with 10 minutes left.

After last week's nine-try demolition ofWales by England, this was proper Test rugby.

Despite his side being outscored by two tries to nil, England coach Brian Ashton will have learnt far more about his players than he did against the Welsh.

Ashton will name his final 30-man squad on Tuesday and Lawrence Dallaglio looks likely to have played his way in.

You could not fault England's defence - until their late lapse in the face of Chabal's onslaught - but they were unable to break through the French resistance.

Phil Vickery and Olly Barkley both went close late on, but France held on to subdue the World Champions in front of 63,667 at Twickenham.

England will fill face an even tougher task next week in Marseilles. Barkley got them up and running early with a longrange penalty after nine minutes.

France quickly struck back through veteran lock Fabien Pelous. Equalling Philippe Sella's France record of 111 caps, Pelous latched on to a sublime cut-out pass from David Skrela wide on the right and trundled over from five metres, despite the best efforts of Josh Lewsey.

David Skrela was unable to convert from the touchline. The France fly-half was on target moments later when he fired over a penalty after England had been penalised at the breakdown. England's forwards handling was accurate with Dallaglio prominent in the loose.

Barkley closed the gap to two points with his second penalty after Remy Martin was penalised for offside.

A sizzling break from Wasps winger Paul Sackey almost led to England's first try but the move broke down in midfield.

As England grew in confidence, Mike Catt got in on the act when he fizzed through the middle after a clever break from Barkley.

Sackey was tackled by Vincent Clerc but England were making their intentions increasingly clear.

A thunderous tackle from Jamie Noon on opposite man Damien Traille caused confusion in the French ranks and they were penalised for obstruction.

Barkley's second long-range effort, and his third penalty in total, put England into a deserved lead six minutes before halftime.

France captain Raphael Ibanez appeared to aim a punch at opposite man Mark Regan.

But referee Alan Lewis let Ibanez off with a talking-too and instead penalised England for offside.

With boos ringing out around the ground, Skrela kicked the simplest of penalties to edge France back in front.

But Skrela was the villain for France two minutes later when he brought down a ruck 20 metres out to hand Barkley his fourth penalty.

Skrela had a chance to put France back in front two minutes into the second half but his kick from 50 metres dropped short.

Jamie Noon produced another sledgehammer of a tackle on Skrela to lift Englands spirits further after 45 minutes. Simon Shaw and Dallaglio combined time after time to thunder the France forwards back around the fringes.

As against Wales last week, England had the upper hand in the physical exchanges.

France replacement scrum-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde narrowed the gap back to a point when England were again penalised by Lewis at the breakdown.

As France tried to run out of defence England's ferocious tackling continued to knock them backwards.

Vickery was denied by a despairing tackle by Dimitri Szarzewski on 67 minutes following a flowing move that was sparked by debutant Nick Abendanon.

But Chabal struck with 10 minutes left when he bulldozed his way through some slipshod England tackling.


ENGLAND: Abendanon 6; Sackey 7, Noon 7, Catt (c) 7, Lewsey 5; Barkley 6, Perry 6; Sheridan 6, Regan 7, Stevens 5, Shaw 7, Kay 6, Haskell 6, Dallaglio 8, Worsley 6.

Replacements: Gomarsall 7, Mears 6, Vickery 6, Borthwick 6, Wilkinson 6.


WE HAVE LIFT-OFF: Pierre Mignoni gives England star Lawrence Dallaglio the full treatment; GOOD OLLY: Barclay sticks the boot in; ON THE MOVE: England's Josh Lewsey powers his way through the French defense
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Copyright 2007 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:The People (London, England)
Date:Aug 12, 2007
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