Scarratt's last-gasp penalty helps England to edge past France

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(Reuters) - England centre Emily Scarratt scored a penalty in the dying seconds as the world’s top-ranked women’s team battled to a 25-23 victory over France at Twickenham on Saturday in the second of their two November internationals.

The Red Roses came into the game having won 10 of their last 11 meetings with France, including last weekend’s 33-10 win in Grenoble, but began slowly as the visitors scored tries through Emeline Gros and Cyrielle Banet to lead 15-5 at the break.

With Banet sent to the sin bin for a yellow card following the restart, England scored a try through Lark Davies to cut the deficit to five points but Caroline Drouin made it 18-10 for France with a penalty.

Banet crossed the line again to swell France’s lead to 23-10 before Poppy Cleall and Ellie Kildunne scored tries to drag Six Nations champions England back into the contest.

England trailed 22-23 and were awarded a penalty in the final minute. World Player of the Year Scarratt, one of several to enter the game on the hour mark, made no mistake and sealed the victory for Simon Middleton’s team.

“The bench did a fantastic job but you have to credit France. We’ve had some battles but lucky for us we’ve come out on top. That was a hell of a performance from them... I’m proud of our girls,” Katy Daley-Mclean, who captained England, told the BBC.

England and France are scheduled to face each other in next year’s World Cup in New Zealand after being drawn in the same pool.

“We want to be winning our games when we play France, especially going ahead to the World Cup... we want a slight edge,” said injured regular skipper Sarah Hunter.

Reporting by Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge and Clare Fallon