Anthony Watson’s two tries ensured England enjoyed a 19-14 victory over France to start their World Cup warm-up campaign on a positive note.
The Bath winger flew over for his brace in the first half and Jonny May added another in the second period as Stuart Lancaster’s men just managed to hold off a brave effort from the visitors.
France were led by hooker Dmitri Szarzewski, who missed the Six Nations, winning his 80th cap while scrum-half Morgan Parra and fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc renewed their partnership.
England led 12-9 at the break but it was the visitors who made the stronger, more positive beginning, pushing their opponents on the defensive and threatening to strike the first blow.
They almost made a flying start when centre Brice Dulin raced onto a kick through, and sprinted for the ball with May.
Dulin just failed to manage to get his hand on the ball as it bounced across the dead-ball line and the chance went awry.
But the pressure still paid off when Parra made England pay with a penalty.
Ex-rugby league man Sam Burgess, making his debut at inside centre, failed to roll away after a tackle and Parra slotted his kick with ease.
Yet, it took just England’s first assault on the French line for the hosts to get the Twickenham supporters on their feet with a try in the corner.
Watson shrugged off Dulin’s attempted tackle far too easily, stepped down the flank and dived over. Owen Farrell converted for a 7-3 lead.
Burgess then made a hefty hit on opposite number Alexandre Dumoulin which caused the Frenchman to drop the ball.
Parra gave France a lift by kicking a second penalty when England were guilty of standing up in a scrum under pressure.
Louis Picamoles produced a fine side step to waltz passed England prop Mako Vunipola and surge downfield putting his side on the attack.
And another outstanding French scrum allowed Parra to send his third penalty sailing through the posts.
Burgess was sent to the sin-bin for deliberately obstructing Parra as the French scrum-half tried to take a quick tap.
England raced out of the blocks at the start of the second half and a sublime high cross kick from Alex Goode was inch perfect for May to chase, catch and touch down for his side’s third try. Farrell converted.
A yellow card for flanker Calum Clark, who grabbed replacement France hooker Guilhem Guirado around the neck and clearing dangerously from a ruck, saw England reduced to 14 men again.
The French took full advantage as their pack took command and helped stage a fightback with flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo bull-dozing his way over at the bottom of a driving maul.
England were put under pressure in the final few minutes but France could not find a way of avoiding the loss.