Cueto out to rattle Les Bleus

Mark Cueto is hoping England can turn the French crowd against their rugby team in Sunday's Six Nations clash. [more]

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Mark Cueto is hoping England can turn the French crowd against their rugby team in Sunday’s Six Nations clash.

France have sparkled and struggled in almost equal measures this season, and their supporters have not been slow to vent their frustration on their heroes.

Cueto, relishing the prospect of playing at the Stade de France for the first time, said: "If we can turn the home crowd on the home team as soon as possible that can only work in our favour.

"They’ve shown glimpses of their exceptional ability, but only in patches, and haven’t strung a solid 80 minutes together."

France have won both their matches since suffering a shock 20-16 defeat by Scotland at Murrayfield in their opening match – but they have blown hot and cold.

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After storming to a 43-3 lead, the French went off the boil against Ireland in Paris – allowing the visitors to claw their way back and cut the final deficit to just 12 points.

Then they trailed 12-8 to Italy at half-time, before hitting the accelerator in the second half for a somewhat flattering 37-12 victory.

"You’ve just got to look at the game against Italy when things weren’t going the French way for 10 or 15 minutes. The crowd were right on their backs back, so we’ve to look to do exactly the same," said the Sale Sharks winger.

"It’s one thing being able to perform at Twickenham in a comfortable setting with 75,000 behind you – but to go away and play in one of the best stadiums in the world against what potentially could be quite a hostile crowd is very different."

England also want to make amends for last year’s defeat by the French at Twickenham when Andy Robinson’s side went down 18-17 after surrendering a 17-6 half-time lead.

Cueto recalled: "It was a completely bizarre situation, a classic game of two halves.

"We almost had the game tied up at half-time. To go out and lose like we did was massively disappointing."

So was the 18-12 setback against Scotland at Murrayfield two weeks ago in a match, Cueto insists, England had more than enough opportunities to win.

"Immediately afterwards, there was massive disappointment and frustration as well – but on the other hand there were a lot of positives to take out of the game," he said.

"You might find that difficult to believe. But with the amount of possession we had, the positions we got into in the field, it was positive.

"What let us down was that last pass. We weren’t clinical enough; we got into the points-scoring positions quite well – but once we got there we didn’t finish off by taking the points. That was the frustrating part.

"If you just look at the stats from that game you would put your mortgage on the fact that England won it. But purely and simply, we didn’t take the points when they were on offer – and that’s the lesson to be taken from the game.

"If you don’t take the chances international defences are so good that you are going to lose. It’s a lesson we have to take on board from last week," he said.

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