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Ben Te'o seals win as England set record

Associated Press logo Associated Press 4/02/2017

Former NRL star Ben Te'o scored the match-winning try as England came back twice to edge France 19-16 and set a national record for consecutive victories in a shaky start to their Six Nations rugby title defence.

Substitute Te'o, on for two minutes in the centres, burst through a couple of defenders close to the line to score with 10 minutes to go in an impressive cameo from the former South Sydney, Brisbane and Wests Tigers back-rower.

England's 15th straight win dating to 2015, and 14th under coach Eddie Jones, was easily their poorest display in the streak.

The English defence was narrow, their set-pieces were stressed, and they missed 24 tackles, almost twice as many as France at Twickenham.

The English were sluggish and sloppy until replacements in the last 15 minutes made a difference.

"We can't get much uglier than that," Jones said.

"For some reason we sat back in the first half, we weren't our usual urgent selves. Maybe the preparation I gave the team wasn't good enough."

France was leading 16-12 after scoring the first try through replacement prop Rabah Slimani.

Minutes later, Slimani was penalised for collapsing a scrum, and England set up an attacking lineout.

When the drive stalled, James Haskell, on for six minutes, charged upfield.

Jack Nowell, on for two minutes, took the ball to the line.

Then flyhalf Owen Farrell fed Te'o, who charged over from close range.

England held on with more authority than it showed in the previous 70 minutes, and win No.15 eclipsed the record streak of the great 2002-03 side.

France ended the run of Martin Johnson's team in a warm-up for the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

"We were awful but I thought we were always going to win the game," Jones said.

Jones was nonplussed about the record streak.

"The only thing that matters is we want to be Six Nations champions, and that starts now by beating Wales next week," he said.

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