Chichester's Jess Breach helped England women began their autumn series with a 20-10 win against France in Clermont-Ferrand.
Playing their first game since coming second in the Women’s Super Series in San Diego in the summer, England won in France for the first time since 2012 in front of the passionate home support of Clermont Auvergne’s Sports Marcel Michelin.
In bright sunshine in central France, after a frantic opening 10 minutes the hosts were ahead through the boot of Jessy Tremouliere when she rewarded their opening dominance of territory.
Following a Marlie Packer penalty turnover, newly-crowned World Rugby Women’s Player of the Year Emily Scarratt knocked over a central penalty from 30 metres out.
After a succession of driving mauls near the French line, it was the Red Roses who got the first try of the game when captain Sarah Hunter crashed over from a powerful forward effort.
England’s momentum continued from that opening try and a succession of pick and go’s around the fringes by the forwards saw Hunter go over with help from Sarah Beckett to establish a 17-3 half-time lead.
After the break saw both teams on top when it came to defence, but Marlie Packer’s yellow card saw France get their first try as a break down the blindside was finished by Camille Boudaud.
England were 20-10 ahead with eight minutes to go when Scarratt knocked over her second penalty and the impressive display was closed out for a memorable win.
It was an impressive performance to start the first of three Tests this November for Simon Middleton’s side with France having won 17 of their 18 home games before the match.
England face Les Bleues again next week at Sandy Park, Exeter, before ending their 2019 games against Italy at Goldington Road, Bedford.
England: 15 Sarah McKenna, 14 Abby Dow, 13 Emily Scarratt, 12 Zoe Harrison, 11 Jess Breach, 10 Katy Daley-Mclean, 9 Leanne Riley; 1 Hannah Botterman, 2 Lark Davies, 3 Sarah Bern, 4 Zoe Aldcroft, 5 Abbie Scott, 6 Sarah Beckett, 7 Marlie Packer, 8 Sarah Hunter (C). Finishers: 16 Heather Kerr, 17 Ellena Perry, 18 Shaunagh Brown, 19 Poppy Cleall, 20 Vicky Fleetwood, 21 Natasha Hunt, 22 Emily Scott, 23 Lydia Thompson.
RED ROSES’ AUTUMN FIXTURES
Saturday 9 November - France Women 10-20 England Women
Saturday 16 November - Quilter International: England Women v France Women
Sandy Park, Exeter (KO 1310 GMT, live on Sky Sports Mix and Action)
Saturday 23 November - Quilter International: England Women v Italy Women
Goldington Road, Bedford (KO 1500 GMT live on EnglandRugby.com and England Rugby social channels)