PARIS (Reuters) – A rejuvenated France held off England to start their Six Nations with a bang in a 24-17 victory at the Stade de France on Sunday to give new coach Fabien Galthie a confidence-boosting debut.

A year after squandering a 16-0 halftime lead in a 24-19 loss to Wales in Paris, Les Bleus, who were 17-0 up at the interval, held firm to prevent another embarrassing second-half collapse as England sprung into life around the hour.

France captain Charles Ollivon led by example with two tries, one of them debatable, and Vincent Rattez also went over, with the rest of the points coming from Romain Ntamack’s boot.

England threatened a comeback after falling 24-0 behind, with two Jonny May tries converted by Owen Farrell who also slotted a penalty, but it was too late for the World Cup runners-up in their first game since their final defeat by South Africa in Japan.

(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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