Kick-off: 1645, 11/03/2023
France haven’t won at Twickenham in the Six Nations since 2005 but are fancied to buck that trend by beating England there on Saturday.
Both teams will be looking to keep up the pressure on Ireland at the top of the table, but Les Bleus are rated in much better shape.
The defending champions are backed to prevail at 4/5 in our first England vs France prediction.
Farrell kicking woes a concern
Steve Borthwick will be satisfied with the spirit shown by England since he began his reign with a 29-23 loss to Scotland at this venue.
They produced a fine first-half performance on route to beating Italy 31-14 here and then fought hard to grind out a 20-10 triumph over Wales in Cardiff.
However, that last match was not pretty to watch, with both sides constantly resorting to kicking out of hand, rather than trying to run the ball.
To be fair, England’s margin of victory should have been more emphatic, with Owen Farrell missing four of his six shots at goal.
The red rose captain has just a 47 per cent strike rate throughout the tournament and has been working with Jonny Wilkinson to reverse that goalkicking slump.
“Half of it is overthinking, so it’s about trying to take it back – I obviously know how to kick,” Farrell said.
“I’ve hit some where I’ve missed but have been happy with how I’ve hit them. I’ve hit some where I’ve been off.
“But I’ve been in this situation before and I’m sure I will again at some point, so it’s making sure I get back to enjoying my kicks.”
England’s laborious approach to attacking means they often rely heavily on points picked up from Farrell’s boot, so this is a tricky situation to overcome.
The forwards will always keep things competitive, but England vs France odds.
French flair to shine through
Admittedly, France have been far from convincing as they try to defend the title they claimed in such impressive fashion with last year’s grand slam success.
Les Bleus kicked off by edging out Italy 29-24 in Rome but were put under intense pressure in the closing stages of that contest.
A round two trip to Dublin was seen by many as an early title decider and it was Ireland who justified their world number one ranking with a 32-19 victory.
Fabien Galthie’s side then looked vulnerable at times when hosting Scotland but came out on top 32-21 in an entertaining encounter which saw each side receive an early red card.
France have not reached the same heights as last season, especially in terms of professionalism, but they are still capable of magical moments going forward.
The desire to end that Twickenham hoodoo is also apparent throughout their playing squad and coaching ranks.
“It is one of the strongholds of rugby,” Francois Cros told L’Equipe. “I’ve only played there once, in the Champions Cup final, but never with the France team. It’s very exciting.
“It will be very difficult. England had a slow start to the championship, no doubt because of their change of coaching staff, but they seem to be hitting their stride and improving.
“They have a strong pack, with a very active front row, a back row that is good at slowing down ball – and in the backs they have some really interesting players.”
England’s strength up front could well cause Les Bleus problems, but we’re backing the French flair to ultimately triumph.
An away win by 6-10 points at 6/1 for England HT/France FT is another tempting price.
Wales 10-20 ENGLAND
FRANCE 32-21 Scotland
Head-to-head: France 25-13 England, England 23-20 France, England 22-19 France, France 24-17 England
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