England 44-8 France
JONNY MAY plundered a hat-trick of tries as England continued their rampaging Six Nations start by registering their biggest win against old rivals France since 1911.
May sealed his reputation as world rugby’s deadliest finisher inside half an hour, capitalising on brilliant home kicking but also showing dazzling footwork to outfox Damian Penaud for his second.
It lifted the Wiltshire winger’s strike rate to 12 tries in as many Tests and helped propel England to a 30-8 half-time lead at Twickenham that included the bonus point sealed by Henry Slade’s touchdown.
From the moment May crossed after a mere 65 seconds, England looked assured of victory as they swept aside possibly the poorest French team to have played in the Six Nations.
Les Bleus were a rabble and Eddie Jones’ title challengers ran amok, helping themselves to six tries to deliver another statement in World Cup year a week after overrunning champs Ireland 32-20 in Dublin.
It sets up a mouth-watering clash with Wales in a fortnight when the tournament’s only unbeaten teams collide in Cardiff.
They might be without Mako Vunipola, however, after the loosehead prop limped off after injuring his left ankle.
England scored inside the opening three minutes for a fifth successive Test, the lightning-fast May tapping down Elliot Daly’s chip ahead. The try was set up by a thunderous double tackle from Billy and Mako Vunipola that dislodged the ball from Guilhem Guirado’s grasp.
Two Owen Farrell penalties extended the lead and the one-way traffic continued when waves of forwards ran off Ben Youngs at scrum-half.
A long Farrell pass then offered May a one-on-one with Penaud and an easy finish, and just before the half-hour May completed his hat-trick as more French incompetence was exposed by Slade’s up-and-under and the recalled Chris Ashton chipped on for him to score.
Yoann Huget engineered a French try for Penaud but England scored again on the stroke of half-time as Slade danced over.
Slade was at the heart of England’s fifth try as he kicked ahead after intercepting Camille Lopez’s pass and when Ashton was tackled without the ball, referee Nigel Owens gave a penalty try.
The carnage was complete in the 55th minute when Farrell scored seconds after May nearly claimed his fourth from a move which began deep in own half.
‘I am just doing my job,’ said May. ‘Everyone is working hard and we are putting in some good performances. We’ve learnt a lot over the last 12 months or so and have worked extremely hard.
‘It’s special (to get a hat-trick). I’ll remember this day. To score a try is awesome, especially at Twickenham. I’m very lucky.’
■ ENGLAND took a big step towards winning the Women’s Six Nations with an emphatic 41-26 victory over reigning champions France in Doncaster. In a contest which was billed as a title decider, it was England who broke the deadlock. Jess Breach touched down in the 11th minute after collecting a pinpoint cross-field kick from fly-half Katy Daley-McLean, whose conversion made her the first English woman to pass 500 international points.