Jessy Tremouliere’s last minute try ended England Women’s Six Nations Grand Slam bid as France Women claimed a dramatic 18-17 victory in Grenoble.
The Red Roses’ hopes of a second successive title were dealt a huge blow in front of a near sell-out 20,000-capacity Stade des Alpes. Ahead of the final round of matches, France are now the only unbeaten side.
Abigail Dow scored England’s opening converted try before Tremouliere crossed for an unconverted score just after the half hour mark.
Caroline Drouin edged France ahead with the hosts’ second try just before half-time, again with the conversion going wide, before Amy Cokayne’s try — converted by Katy Daley-McLean — put England back in front.
Tremouliere kicked a 54th-minute penalty to close the gap to a point at 14-13 in England’s favour, before Daley-McLean stretched that to four from the penalty tee with nine minutes remaining.
However, Tremouliere finished off a fantastic performance with the crucial score, touching down in the 79th minute to claim a stunning win for Les Bleues.
They will bid for Grand Slam glory when they face Wales Women in Colwyn Bay on March 16.
On Sunday, Italy claimed their first victory of this season’s championship after subduing Wales 22-15 at the Principality Stadium.
Both of Wales’ try-scorers – flanker Alisha Butchers and number eight Sioned Harries — were sin-binned during the second half as Italy triumphed.
Italy stunned Wales through a try from flanker Isabella Locatelli after just 10 minutes, with centre Michela Sillari’s conversion opening up a seven-point lead.
Wales, though, responded impressively, initially cutting the gap through a Robyn Wilkins penalty and then going ahead when Scarlets flanker Butchers claimed a try from close range.
But they could not break clear in the contest, and Italy regained the initiative on the stroke of half-time through wing Maria Magatti’s touchdown that secured a 12-8 interval advantage.
It gave Italy momentum, and they built on that within 10 minutes of the restart when Padova’s Beatrice Rigoni crossed for a try that opened up a nine-point lead and left Wales with growing problems, especially in terms of conceding territory and possession.
Harries powered in for a try that Wilkins converted to set up a tense finale, but Italy secured the win when Sillari crossed during the dying seconds.