First-half scores from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Foden set the tone for the performance, with Tom Croft going over after the break and Wesley Fofana setting up a nervy finale with a late try for France.
It has not been an easy week for England interim boss Stuart Lancaster, with both Nick Mallett and Jake White linked to the Twickenham hotseat after the Six Nations.
Skipper Chris Robshaw spoke in the week about the importance of getting a win for Lancaster in Paris to further the interim man’s chances of landing the position full-time and England responded to the rallying cry.
France were at their frustrating best – brilliant when behind – but equally as frustrating for the opening 20 minutes of the game but Croft insisted it was a job well done by England’s newlook squad.
“It’s absolutely massive to win it – we said after the last game against Wales, we have got to take that extra step when it comes to seeing a team off and I thought we did that,” he said.
“I thought we really dug in, it was close at times and there were boys going down injured but it was a massive effort from the guys and it was great to have such passionate English support here as well. It was another great step for this side.
“We’re massively behind Stuart Lancaster, we’re a tight nit group, we’ve only been together a short period of time but we’ve come on leaps and bounds.
“We’ve improved areas – I think that’s obvious, Stuart Lancaster is really guiding us and the players are reacting to that.”
Croft admitted after failing to release Northampton full-back Foden with an inside pass with ten minutes remaining, he was relieved his decision hadn’t proved costly as he galloped over for the deciding score of the game from the same move.
“I saw Rougerie go, I maybe should have passed the ball to Ben Foden but I thought I’d have a go myself and luckily it came off – but it’s not about my try – it was a team performance,” added Croft.
“It was huge win for us and now we’ve got another tough test against Ireland at home next week.”
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