England win Nations Cup with extra time penalty


England won the Nations Cup final in the most dramatic way on Sunday, as Owen Farrell landed a “golden point” penalty in sudden-death extra time to secure a 22-19 victory over a young French team who had been seconds away from a glorious Twickenham triumph.

Farrell converted a Luke Cowan-Dickie try with the last kick of normal time to level the scores, hit a post with a penalty 80 seconds into extra time — where the first points scored would win the match — but then made no mistake with six minutes left on the clock from wide on the left.

“We just had to keep fighting,” England coach Eddie Jones said. “Owen had one of those rare days, so we had to find other way to score points.”

“Our performance wasn’t as sparkling as we wanted it to be but it was a great game of rugby, and we’ve won the Six Nations and now the Eight Nations and we can’t do any more.”

Fittingly, there were fans on site — albeit only 2,000 of them — to witness the drama, England’s first taste of extra time since winning the World Cup final in 2003.

In that match it was Jonny Wilkinson who held his nerve and this time it was Farrell, who missed four kicks in all but will be remembered for the two that made the difference when it mattered most.

It was tough on France, who played with all the confidence of youth and silenced those who ridiculed the game due to the unavailability of so many key players.

“It was not the French farce but the French force today,” flanker Cameron Woki said. “We wanted to show that there was only one French squad. There’s no B team or C team. We showed we could compete with England. There’s a bit of disappointment obviously, but we can be proud of ourselves.”

France looked pacy and positive in the early stages and though Farrell and Elliot Daly slotted a penalty apiece it was the French who claimed the first try as fly-half Matthieu Jalibert found a gap to feed fullback Brice Dulin, the only man in the team with double-figure caps to his name.

Two Jalibert penalties stretched the lead to 13-6 and France held it via a fantastic tryline defence of relentless England forward attacks at the end of the half.

England’s backs then began to find their feet and as the pressure built, the penalties began to arrive. Farrell slotted one but missed two, then England lost their lineout after opting to kick a fourth to the corner.

France were short of senior international experience but many of the team featured in the back-to-back Under-20 World Cup-winning teams and they showed great tenacity under pressure to start forcing turnovers.

They then lost Jalibert to injury but his replacement Louis Carbonel stepped in smoothly to land two penalties that looked to be enough.

However, England still had time to launch one more attack and they duly won a lineout and mauled Cowan-Dickie over the line and Farrell nailed the pressure conversion to take the game to extra time — raising a huge roar from the fans.

The captain had another kick from a similar distance to win it 80 seconds into extra time but hit a post. England then defended carefully as France tried to set up a drop goal, and won another penalty to quell the danger.

With six minutes remaining, the prospect of a penalty shoot-out was looming large but France winger Allivereti Raka was trapped by Tom Curry and penalised for holding on as Maro Itoje wrestled for the ball.

From wide on the left Farrell made no mistake and though it was England’s players celebrating wildly, everyone involved with the French team will take a huge amount from the game where, as coach Fabien Galthie said, they did the shirt proud.

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