England Women suffered a late defeat against France in the Six Nations as the Red Roses went down 17-18 in Grenoble.
Both teams came into the game off the back of perfect records having won three out of three with try bonus-points to sit on 15 points coming into the fixture.
England spent the opening exchanges inside the French half and were rewarded when some neat handling was finished off by wing Abigail Dow as Les Bleus conceded a try for the first time in the tournament.
In front of an impassioned record breaking 17,440 crowd backing the hosts, France responded as Jessy Trémoulière went in out wide but she was unable add the conversion to her score.
Some French pressure before the break saw fly half Caroline Drouin cross as they took a 10-7 lead into half-time.
England’s second came from a driving maul off a line out, as hooker Amy Cokayne dotted down from five metres out.
Frances full back Trémoulière knocked over a penalty to bring the game to within a point as England led 14-13 with 25 minutes to go.
However, despite a huge defensive effort from the Red Roses, as well as a Katy Daley-Mclean penalty, Trémoulière broke through with two minutes to go to snatch the victory by a point.
“We showed an amazing amount of character in what was an unbelievable environment to play in,” said head coach Simon Middleton.
“I can’t speak highly enough of the character the players showed, but we just weren’t good enough on the night.
“We weren’t at our best, we know that but we still created enough chances to win the game and I think that’s what we’re more disappointed with than anything – that we created chances and didn’t take them.
“A fantastic occasion and a great game. Fair play to France, they never gave up, they hung in right to the end which we knew they would.”
England Women match-day 23 v France, Six Nations 2018
15. Ellie Kildunne (Gloucester-Hartpury, 7 caps)
14. Abigail Dow (Wasps FC Ladies, 5 caps)
13. Rachael Burford (Harlequins Ladies, 78 caps)
12. Amber Reed (Bristol Ladies, 48 caps)
11. Danielle Waterman (Wasps FC Ladies, 81 caps)
10. Katy Daley-Mclean (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 98 caps)
9. Leanne Riley (Harlequins Ladies, 20 caps)
1. Vickii Cornborough (Harlequins Ladies, 38 caps)
2. Amy Cokayne (Wasps FC Ladies, 40 caps)
3. Sarah Bern (Gloucester Hartpury, 19 caps)
4. Abbie Scott (Harlequins Ladies, 28 caps)
5. Tamara Taylor (Darlington Mowden Park Sharks, 115 caps)
6. Poppy Cleall (Saracens Women, 21 caps)
7. Marlie Packer (Saracens Women, 58 caps)
8. Sarah Hunter (Loughborough Lightning, 104 caps)
16. Lark Davies (Worcester Valkyries, 9 caps)
17. Rochelle Clark (Wasps FC Ladies, 136 caps)
18. Justine Lucas (Wasps FC Ladies, 32 caps)
19. Rowena Burnfield (Richmond F.C, 46 caps)
20. Izzy Noel-Smith (Bristol Ladies, 42 caps)
21. Caity Mattinson (Bristol Ladies, 6 caps)
22. Lagi Tuima (Bristol Ladies, 4 caps)
23. Charlotte Pearce (Loughborough Lightning, 4 caps)
England Women Six Nations 2018 playing schedule and results:
Italy 7 – 42 England
Tries: Bern, Cleall, Hunter (3), Kildunne, Dow
Cons: Daley- Mclean (2)
England 52 – 0 Wales
Tries: Cleall (2), Dow, Riley, Kildunne (2), Burford, Packer
Cons: Daley-Mclean (5)
Scotland 8 – 43 England
Tries: Waterman (2), Bern, Pearce (2), Kildunne, Tuima
Cons: Daley-Mclean (4)
France 18 – 17 England
Tries: Dow, Cokayne
Cons: Katy Daley-Mclean
Pens: Katy Daley-Mclean
England v Ireland
Friday 16 March, KO 17:30, Live Sky Sports Action and Sky Sports Mix
Ricoh Arena, Coventry
Report courtesy of the RFU