Women's Six Nations: England win fourth consecutive title with emphatic victory over France

England have now won 23 consecutive Test matches. PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images

England secured a fourth Six Nations Grand Slam in six years as they beat France 24-12 in Bayonne on Saturday.

The victory makes it four consecutive Six Nations titles for the Red Roses, who have demonstrated their dominance by only conceding four tries in this year's competition.

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France gave England their toughest test so far and the Red Roses had to come from behind after an early France score from Romane Menager.

Two converted first-half tries from Sarah Bern and another from Abbie Ward put the Red Roses ahead before an Emily Scarratt penalty extended England's lead.

France fought back in the second half with a try from prop Annaelle Deshaye, but England held on for their 23rd Test victory in a row.

"It means so much every time we get to have a Grand Slam," captain Scarratt said. "Some players weren't in the squad for this match and this is for every person who has played during this Six Nations.

"In the first half we were in control but you never have it all your own way against a top team like France.

"Our forwards were phenomenal and got through so much work. There are things to look at but now we want to celebrate it because it's been a hard campaign."

England initially found themselves in unchartered territory as France got an early score but the hosts' bright start soon turned into a long afternoon as the Red Roses hit back in brilliant fashion with three of their own.

Les Blues were held at bay by the physicality and defensive work of Simon Middleton's side, who were relentless for much of the half and carried their 14-point lead into the break.

England's maul was key to them continuing their relentless attack while France's line-out inconsistencies halted theirs as Zoe Aldcroft's four steals in the first half was the difference between the two sides.

Fly-half Zoe Harrison was sent to the sin-bin early in the second half but England got through the 10-minute period without conceding a point and added three through Scarratt's penalty after French centre Maelle Filopon was yellow-carded.

Annick Hayraud's side had sprung into life after going down to 14, however, and all their pressure finally amounted to some points as Deshaye powered over the line just after the hour mark but Caroline Drouin missed the conversion.

The try gave the home side some hope but it proved too late as England held on and stamped out any sign of attacking sparks from France, who last beat them in Grenoble in the 2018 tournament en route to lifting the trophy.

England have now won 10 consecutive games against France, and will next face Les Bleus in the World Cup pool stage.

The victory, coupled with an impressive run in the Autumn Internationals, cements England as favourites for the competition taking place in New Zealand in October.

Earlier on Saturday, Italy snatched a 10-8 victory over Wales in Cardiff in the final minute through a Michela Sillari penalty.

Sara Barattin opened the scoring for the Azzurre after Wales went down to 13 players, and Italy held their lead until 10 minutes to go, when Keira Bevan cliched a late try for Wales to put them ahead.

But the home side gave away a penalty with a minute to go, allowing Sillari to grab it at the death.

Wales finish the tournament in third place -- their best effort since 2009.

Meanwhile, Scotland were condemned to the Women's Six Nations Wooden Spoon after a heroic last-minute converted try from Enya Breen secured a narrow victory for Ireland late on Saturday.

Scotland led by six points as the clock went into the red thanks to an Evie Gallagher try and three Helen Nelson penalties, but a last push from the home side saw Breen surging over to secure Ireland a fourth-place finish.

Information from Reuters was included in this report