Jonny May scored a first-half hat trick as England routed France 44-8 at Twickenham to maintain their perfect record in the 2019 Six Nations.
After overcoming reigning champions Ireland in their first game, Eddie Jones’ men produced a dominant display that was spearheaded by wing May’s treble inside the opening half an hour.
Henry Slade also went over prior to half-time, with a penalty try and Owen Farrell’s score coming after the break.
While England’s title credentials were strengthened with a second bonus-point win, which put them back top of the table, France saw theirs virtually extinguished nine days on from throwing away a 16-0 lead in a loss to Wales.
.@EnglandRugby fans will never forget that first half…#ENGvFRA #GuinnessSixNations pic.twitter.com/JPpJesA0kS
— Guinness Six Nations (@SixNationsRugby) February 10, 2019
For the fifth successive match England registered a try inside the first five minutes, May racing through to dot down following Elliot Daly’s measured kick in a move that would prove fruitful for Jones’ men in the first half.
Two Farrell penalties were sandwiched by Morgan Parra getting France on the board before May went in again, collecting Farrell’s long pass and side-stepping Damian Penaud to finish.
And May completed his hat trick as he again raced onto a kick, this time delivered by Chris Ashton once Parra misjudged a high ball.
Penaud was being targeted defensively but he did score France’s only try after Yoann Huget had shaken off three would-be tacklers.
Yet England entered the interval with a 30-8 lead as Slade scored their fourth try on the stroke of half-time, with Danny Care’s grubber kick turning the French defense once more.
That advantage was increased to 36 points by the hour mark as England’s kicking game continued to expose French frailties.
Jones’ side were awarded a 49th-minute penalty try when Gael Fickou was yellow carded for hauling down Ashton before he looked to collect Slade’s kick through, while Farrell got in on the act after following in his kick when Antoine Dupont nudged the ball away from a diving May.
3 – Jonny May is the first @EnglandRugby player to score a hat-trick against France since Jake Jacob back in 1924. Flying.
— OptaJonny (@OptaJonny) February 10, 2019
England found a formula that worked inside the opening two minutes and kept utilizing grubber kicks to devastating effect. Two of May’s three tries came via that method and the tactic was used in the build up to his other score. Penaud and France had no answer to one of the world’s best finishers.
England face Wales, the only other team with two wins from two, in Cardiff on February 23 on the same day France will look to kick-start their campaign against Scotland in Paris.