x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Croft hails England's 'massive effort' to quell France's fightback

Stuart Lancaster's side claim their third away win in the Six Nations and move to second in the table behind Wales.

Tom Croft goes over to score his try at Stade de France.
Tom Croft goes over to score his try at Stade de France.

Tom Croft, the England flanker, described their thrilling 24-22 win over France in Paris as "absolutely massive" and another big step forward for the new-look side.

Croft's try with 10 minutes left helped England claim their third away win in the Six Nations Championship and lifted them up to second in the table behind Wales, who beat Stuart Lancaster's side 19-12 at Twickenham last time out.

Croft, whose side held off a late France fightback, told BBC1: "It's absolutely massive, we said after the last match against Wales that we have to take that extra step when it comes to seeing teams off.

"We really dug in, it was close at times. It was massive effort from the boys, it was great to have the English support over here in France and it's another great step for this side.

"As a team performance it was absolutely huge today and obviously we've got another tough test at home against Ireland next week."

Croft added of England's performances in the competition: "We're a very tight-knit group. We've only been together for this tournament and we've come on leaps and bounds."

England interim coach Stuart Lancaster said: "It was a great achievement to come here with a young side... France have not lost here for 10 games now, it was fantastic.

"I thought Tom Croft's try was outstanding but credit to the French, they came back and almost fashioned a drop goal but I thought we deserved it to be honest.

"The character the boys showed, one to 22 including the management...we were quietly confident coming in here but equally we will keep our feet on the ground as we have a big week coming up."

Lancaster again sidestepped questions about his chances of taking the coach's job on a full-time basis.

"It's my job to get the team ready for Ireland and it should be a great finish to the Six Nations," he added.