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England routs France in stunner

ENGLAND finally cut out the indiscipline on Sunday to rout visiting France 34-10 in the Six Nations and produce its best performance since the 2007 World Cup.

Manager Martin Johnson's exhortations to his team to stop conceding yellow cards paid off as a fluid home side blended forward power and sparkling back play to outscore France by five tries to two at Twickenham.

France went into the game a title hopeful after beating defending champion Wales but ended it well out of contention. The visitors were punished for the sort of errors that have blighted England's recent performances, straying offside at the breakdown and continually turning over possession.

England, which had conceded 10 yellow cards in its past four matches, led within a minute and was 29-0 up at halftime after tries by Mark Cueto, Riki Flutey, Delon Armitage and Joe Worsley. Flutey touched down again at the start of the second period before an improved French team, bolstered by replacements, scored through Dimitri Szarzewski and Julien Malzieu.

The visitors' late rally ensured England did not rival the 37-0 win in 1911 that represents its biggest ever win over France, but England still moved above its opponent to third in the standings and could even finish as runner-up with victory over Scotland in next week's final round.

"It just showed that when we execute what we want to do, we open them up and score tries," Johnson said.

Grand slam

Ireland leads following Saturday's 22-15 victory at Scotland and can complete its first grand slam since 1948 if it wins at second-place Wales. France's last match is at last-place Italy, which lost 20-15 to Wales.

Johnson had a referee go through every one of the 18 penalties England gave away in its 14-13 loss at Ireland two weeks ago and it paid off.

A knock on from Ugo Monye's high ball gave England early possession and the home side surged up the middle of the field, leaving Flutey one on one with Sebastian Chabal. Flutey raced past the giant flanker and flipped the ball to Cueto on the right wing for him to touch down behind posts.

"We really wanted to confirm our good game against Wales and it did not happen," France coach Marc Lievremont said. "There was no game today."


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