England extended their winning streak over France to nine games but in extraordinary circumstances.
With 62 minutes gone, the Stadium Lille Métropole was plunged into darkness as a result of floodlight failure. The decision was then made to call the match a 17-15 win to England, with the score when play stopped deemed to be final.
Before the lights went out, France’s brutal physicality in the opening stages saw England pushed backwards at the scrum. France hit the visitors hard going through the phases as well. The sustained pressure paid off at nine minutes as Maëlle Filopon found a pocket of space in defence to dot down the first try of the match.
It wasn’t long until England hit back and displayed what they could do in attack. Quick hands along with a huge, pinpoint pass from Emily Scarratt fed Abby Dow whose pace stunned France. She beat Jessy Trémoulière and ran a sensational line to score.
With less than 10 minutes before half-time, Zoe Harrison was shown a yellow card as she was in an offside position which led to her obstructing a pass from Pauline Bourdon. England were a player down and France capitalised to find their second score through Trémoulière, who couldn’t convert her own try. However, another incredible try from Dow meant England managed to go 14-12 up at the break.
An early French penalty opened the scoring in the second half and England added their own three-pointer just a few moments later.
Referee Clara Munarini had a card in hand once again as France’s Julie Annery was sin binned for dropping a knee on Poppy Cleall’s face as the England star held onto her leg.
After a huge attacking effort from England, almost 10 minutes of play, they were unable to puncture the French defensive wall.
Fans may then have thought their TVs were on the blink as the picture went dark but in fact the floodlights went down.
France will feel frustrated they weren’t allowed the opportunity to try and get the win. They had the momentum with 18 minutes to play but the call was made.