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Wednesday 15 August 2018

Croft's winning try caps 'best game since Lions'

TOM Croft described his titanic performance in England's 24-22 victory over France as his best at international level since his starring role for the 2009 British & Irish Lions.

The Leicester flanker scored the decisive try in the closing stages to cap the kind of commanding all-round display he has been striving for with England for three years.

Croft dominated the lineout - winning England clean ball and disrupting the French set-piece -- and he was everywhere in another character-filled defensive effort.

"Potentially, this was my best game since the Lions," Croft said.

"It was probably one of the most enjoyable I've had in an England shirt.

"It's about bringing back that form I had with the Lions but also about going past it and bringing different aspects to my game."

England surged into a healthy 14-3 lead with tries from Manu Tuilagi and Ben Foden but, with 10 minutes remaining, Les Bleus had closed to within two points at 17-15.

Stuart Lancaster's men had to respond and they did so through Croft, who accelerated between Aurelien Rougerie and Imanol Harinordoquy before rounding full-back Clement Poitrenaud to touch down.

Disaster

Foden was screaming for the ball on the inside but Croft backed his pace.

"When I went through I was thinking 'maybe I should pass it'. If I had been tackled it would have been a complete disaster," Croft said.

"But then I just thought I'd give it a go. The backs score enough tries. The forwards deserve a couple every now and then.

"It was probably the best try of my England career - the others came from close range against Samoa and Scotland. It was nice to open the legs and have a gallop in.

"It has come off the back of a huge team performance up to that point. We got the ball, we pulled them wide and we had a go.

"They (the coaches) give us free rein. Our attacking shape is fairly simple and it's about playing what you see."

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