Head coach Simon Middleton compared it to a wrestle but while there was no submission, England did record a victory over France in their second Rugby World Cup match.

They picked up a 13-7 success over France to stay top of pool C but were made to work every inch of the way for the four points.

Emily Scarratt scored all 13 points, with a try, conversion and penalty in the first period and a further three points from in front of the posts on 62 minutes.

But England, who finished with the ex-Welwyn trio of Zoe Harrison, Helena Rowland and Hannah Botterman on the park, were rocked by a converted Gaelle Hermet score and had to defend for their lives at times in the final 15 minutes.

Speaking on the RFU website, Middleton said: "It turned into an arm wrestle but I'm really proud that we showed great composure at the end.

"We won the kicking battle to gain the territory, we ran the clock down and then managed the game well in the last 10 minutes, and that is massively important when you are in huge pressure situations like we were.

"There was definitely a bit missing, our finishing, and that is why we ended up in such a close encounter.

"But that's a testament to the French defence. We have to be better at putting those away. If we do it is a different game."

England captain Sarah Hunter won her 137th cap, equalling Rocky Clark as England's most-capped player of all time, but she'd have preferred an easier outing.

"It was all about the team getting the win," she said. "Encounters with France in our last few matches have come down to tight margins and this was no different.

Two very good sides going head to toe, it was attritional out there, and great for France to put a performance out there and make us play.

"That's what happens when you have two teams that want to win."

The Red Roses finish their group games on Sunday, October 23, against South Africa.