England (12) 19
Tries: Watson 2, May
Conversations: Farrell 2
France (9) 14
Penalties: Parra 3
England began their Rugby World Cup preparations with an edgy victory over France - but the game proved damaging for two of their debutants. Anthony Watson scored two first half tries to claim victory at Twickenham but yellow cards for Sam Burgess and Calum Clark ruined what was a mixed evening for Stuart Lancaster.
Burgess was sin-binned for blocking a quick tapped penalty from Morgan Parra before Clark was sent from the field for turning a French player illegally. Both players otherwise produced notably performances but their lack of discipline in a warm-up game is a cause for concern. Henry Slade, also winning his first cap, upstaged the pair with an outstanding display which sees him make a late claim to be included for the showcase tournament.
Two breathtaking finishes from Watson and a brilliantly worked try by Jonny May means a much-changed England side eventually prevailed, even if a combination of Louis Picamoles, Morgan Parra's metronomic kicking and Fulgence Ouedraogo's late try almost saw France steal victory. Along with England's two try scorers, Alex Goode, Slade on debut and Ben Morgan - playing for the first time in seven months after a broken leg - all impressed and swell the selection dilemma facing Lancaster before the 31 August deadline.
France meanwhile left many established names at home for the game but their performance in the scrum will have given coach Philippe Saint-Andre reason to be encouraged. The two teams face-off again in Paris on 22 August in each side's second World Cup warm-up game before they go their separate ways prior to the start of the pool stage. England face Ireland on 5 September while France take on Scotland.
After over two months in their respective training camps, second string England and France sides began their World Cup preparations in earnest in the first of three warm-up games for both nations. The two teams had shared an 90-point thriller in a gripping climax to the Six Nations in March yet it would have been foolish to expect a contest with similar drama.
Even less than five weeks out from their opening pool match against Fiji, England included three debutants in their starting XV in the form of centre pairing Burgess and Slade and Clark in the back row. While the latter two were outsiders to make the final 31-man squad, Burgess was looking to convince Lancaster that his move from rugby league to union had been a smooth, seamless transition.
France meanwhile were typically disjointed ahead attempts to beat England at Twickenham for the first time for eight years. The enigmatic Saint-Andre left 11 of his remaining 36-man squad behind at their Pyrenees camp, retaining just five of the players that had lost 55-35 five months previous in his starting XV.
Burgess wasted little time making his mark in international rugby with a fine hit on Dimitri Szarezewski inside the opening two minutes. The Bath man was eventually the source of England's downfall though when after a lengthy passage of play he conceded a penalty which Parra converted.
But through their first spell of possession of the game, England stormed ahead with the type of clinical finished which had previously evaded them. After going to the blind side from a ruck, Slade found Watson, who wriggled away from Brice Dulin with a fine side-step and went over in the corner.
The 21-year-old repeated the trick mid-way through the half, at the end of a beautiful, flowing England move. May and Burgess were both involved in a breathtaking attack which overwhelmed the French, before Watson breezed over for his fourth international try.
Parra reduced the arrears with two penalties, the second coming after Picamoles had stepped past Mako Vunipola and the French pack won a penalty against the head. Though France looking vulnerable without the ball, they continued to draw errors from England.
Slade was lucky to avoid a yellow card when he took Parra out in the air but his centre partner Burgess was not as fortunate as he was penalised for the second time for blocking a quick tap. Though the 26-year-old was fuming with the decision, it was a moment of indiscipline he could ill-afford in his attempts to win a World Cup place.
Morgan was replaced at the break after his first appearance for seven months but that did little to disrupt England's dominance going forward. Little more than five minutes into the second 40 minutes they grabbed a third try when Goode's delightful cross-kick found May who went over unopposed.
The visitors continued to prove resilient, particularly at the breakdown against a lacklustre England pack and it produced a second yellow card to another debutant in Clark. While Lancaster could forgive one infringement from one of the new breed, a second would be tough to overlook.
Exeter's Luke Cowan-Dickie came on to make his debut but he was unable to single-handedly stem the flow of French authority at the scrum. From another penalty the away side kicked into the corner and Ouedraogo scored his first international try for six years against the 14-men.
Any hopes of staging an unlikely turnaround were ended though as England forced France back into their own 22-yard line for much of the final 10 minutes, to give Lancaster's side a winning start to their summer fixtures. But bigger tests are still to come.