Three key points from England's trouncing of France in Six Nations
England routed France 44-8 to keep hopes alive of a second Six Nations Grand Slam under coach Eddie Jones on Sunday at Twickenham. Here's three key things that came out of the match, which leaves France in danger of collecting the wooden spoon after two defeats from two matches.
Penaud's poor defence
France coach Jacques Brunel had mused prior to the tournament that he hoped players such as Damian Penaud would bring the sparkle that has lit up Clermont's strong showing in the Top 14.
The 22-year-old -- son of former France fly-half Alain -- displayed that in his try in the first-half but the problem did not lie in his skills going forward but rather in defence. Three times England caught him out allowing Jonny May to touch down in his corner -- once Penaud looked despairingly behind him to see if fullback Yoann Huget was covering and although he was not the Clermont three-quarter made no effort to get back.
On another one-on-one with May the latter disdainfully side-stepped him to touch down. It is the sort of nightmare performance that could leave a lasting mark and with Scotland, Ireland and an increasingly dangerous Italy to come it will be a real test of Penaud's mettle should he be retained.
Guirado – a captain all at sea
Guilhem Guirado has been seen as a reliable pair of hands both at hooker and as captain but both those assessments took a serious blow on Sunday.
When all around you are losing their heads the one thing a team requires is a steady hand but Guirado had a disastrous opening few minutes which unsettled the rest of the team and set the pattern of the humiliation. He lost possession which set England up for their first try inside the opening three minutes, the last thing a team thin on confidence and in a stadium they rarely win at required.
He subsequently conceded the penalty that allowed Owen Farrell to stretch the lead to 8-0 and missed a crucial tackle on Henry Slade as the centre went over on the stroke of half-time.
Guirado stuck to his task and made one bullocking run in the second-half but the 32-year-old who spoke prior to the tournament of restoring pride to the French jersey may not have too many more chances of doing so with such a performance.
Fanfare for Ashton's return
Jonny May stole the thunder from the former rugby league star's return to the starting line-up of a Six Nations fixture for the first time in six years. However, there was enough for the 31-year-old to take out of the game to suggest he will be able to do one of his extravagant swan dives to celebrate a try in the matches to come.
Ashton -- who took Eddie Jones' advice prior to the Barbarians match last year to return from Toulon to England and fight for a place in the national side -- showed he is not just an executioner but a creator as well. His delightful grubber kick set up May for one of his tries and he went close to scoring on half-time but was brought to ground -- though Slade went over from the ensuing pass by Kyle Sinckler.
He would have been listed as a try scorer had he not been unceremoniously brought to ground without the ball by Gael Fickou with Ashton favourite to win the chase and touch down in the second-half -- a penalty try being awarded and the Frenchman sin-binned. Ashton made way shortly afterwards for Jack Nowell but having done his job and gave Jones a selection headache in a World Cup year.