International Rugby: World Cup hosts England can edge to victory in France

England had to work hard for their win over France at Twickenham last weekend
England had to work hard for their win over France at Twickenham last weekend

Simon Mail previews England's latest World Cup warm-up game and thinks the visitors can claim another tight win over France...

"England have certainly had the edge over France in recent meetings with four wins from the last five clashes including last week's victory at Twickenham."

France v England
Saturday August 22, 20:00
Live on Sky Sports 1

The countdown is well and truly on with less than one month until England kick off the World Cup against Fiji at Twickenham. Stuart Lancaster is in the process of nailing down his final 31-man squad by August 31, and this weekend's game in France is the last competitive opportunity for players to secure their place.

With just one more international (against Ireland at the start of next month) before their World Cup campaign begins there is very little time left for players to press their claims for a place in the first XV. Lancaster will undoubtedly be looking to identify the individuals that can handle the big stage with pivotal pool games against Wales and Australia on the horizon.

England claimed a 19-14 home victory over France last Saturday in their first World Cup warm-up game. Anthony Watson arguably came out of the contest with the most credit after the winger produced an explosive performance, with his exceptional pace and footwork resulting in two tries. Centres Sam Burgess and Henry Slade made impressive debuts but we are still no nearer knowing which, if any of them, will make the squad.

Lancaster has picked a strong team for the game at the Stade de France. Wing Jonny May, who scored during last weekend's win, is the only player to keep his place in the side. Full-back Mike Brown makes his first appearance since the head injured he suffered in March while Chris Robshaw returns to captain a team which looks much more like the one expected to play in the World Cup.

The biggest selection debate still concerns the centres with only four from six expected to make the final cut. Jonathan Joseph and Luther Burrell start in France while Billy Twelvetrees is named on the bench. Brad Barritt has an injury but the Saracens back is widely considered nailed on for a place in the squad along with Joseph. A big performance from Burrell this weekend should be enough to earn him a spot but Slade and Burgess will not get the chance to impress.

Philippe Saint-Andre has made 12 changes to the France team which pushed England close last weekend. Yoann Maestri, Louis Picamoles and Scott Spedding keep their place in the side with lock Pascal Pape taking the captaincy. Frederic Michalak starts at fly-half while Mathieu Bastareaud and Wesley Fofana are the centre pairing in a stronger looking lineup.

England have certainly had the edge over France in recent meetings with four wins from the last five clashes including last week's victory at Twickenham. The visitors' record at the Stade de France is also encouraging with England prevailing in three of the last five matches held there so this game will hold no fear for them.

These contests have been settled by fine margins with the last three clashes in Paris decided by just two points. Last week's game, albeit with very different teams, suggests another tight match is on the cards. England's recent record against them and the players' motivation to win a spot in the team for the World Cup hosts points to an away win. Lancaster wants momentum and he can achieve this with another narrow win.

Recommended Bet:

Back England to win by 1 to 10 points in the Sportsbook at 2.915/8

Get a Free £/€20 Exchange Bet

  • Join Now - Open account using promo code VAL225
  • Bet - Place a £/€20 Bet on the Exchange
  • Earn We'll Refund You £/€20 If the Bet Loses

T&Cs apply.

Discover the latest articles