WATCH - England 44 France 8: Eddie Jones hails Jonny May hat-trick in England's rampant win

DID last year’s disastrous Six Nations ever truly happen for England?

England winger Jonny May touches down for his treble. (PIC: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)
England winger Jonny May touches down for his treble. (PIC: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

In the space of just eight days, Eddie Jones’ side have made that campaign - and the summer of discontent that followed - seem like a faded dream sequence.

They were brilliant in Dublin last week when destructing the reigning champions Ireland.

Here, the job was far easier, given they had feeble France turned over by the half-hour mark, by which point man-of-the-match Jonny May had also already scored a hat-trick.

England winger Jonny May touches down for his treble. (PIC: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

Jones’ side - who came fifth with their worst championship finish in 31 years last Spring - have got into the useful habit of scoring early in recent games and it took the winger just 64 seconds to get off the mark.

France lost the ball (that would happen again and again) and full-back Elliot Daly cut a swathe through them from deep on the counter before dinking a perfect kick through for May to round off.

Owen Farrell added a penalty soon after for the first of his 19 points and, although Morgan Parra responded with one of his own, it was not a sign of any real competitiveness to come.

Tighthead props really should not challenge for box kicks, illustrated by Demba Bamba’s blatant illegal shove on Daly that gifted Farrell another three points.

Jonny May (centre) celebrates his hat-trick try against France. (PIC: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

When France - who squandered a 16-0 interval lead to lose against Wales in Paris last weekend - saw a promising line-out position result in an overthrow, mopped up with typpical alacrity by Farrell, you sensed it would be one of those days for Les Bleus.

The romantic view is that France are unpredictable.

Far from it; they are predictable. They were predictably bad yet again, failing to deliver anywhere near the sum of their parts.

Roll on the World Cup group stages where England should march past them once more.

England's Mako Vuniploa goes on the charge against France. (PIC: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

However, first, there is, of course, the small matter of Wales in Cardiff as Jones’ side bid for another Grand Slam.

Few would bet against them with this form and confidence.

With the Vunipolas restored, Manu Tuilagi fit, well and bruising all in sight and Farrell simply imperious, this England side has rediscovered its 2017 swagger and a little more besides.

Few international sides could cope so effortlessly without someone of Maro Itoje’s ilk but the British Lion lock was hardly missed given another stellar performance from Courtney Lawes.

Owen Farrell kicks an early penalty for England as they beat France in the Six Nations. (PIC: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire)

The England pack wanted to move France’s larger forwards around and the tactic of Billy Vunipola shifting the ball quickly from the line-out worked well, setting up position for May’s second try in the 24th minute.

The hosts punched infield before Farrell made a late switch behind the ruck and found his winger with a beautiful long pass.

May still had work to do but he embarrassed opposite winger Damian Penaud with his footwork close to the line.

The hat-trick was along soon enough. Scrum-half Parra, who had a nightmarish afternoon spending more time like an auxiliary full-back, spilled another kick, and Chris Ashton showed great vision to kick ahead in the ensuing chaos for May to score his 22nd try in 42 Tests.

Farrell converted for a 23-3 scoreline and, tellingly, ran back to his half encouraging his side to produce more.

As Parra dropped another kick and Lawes stole another line-out, it seemed they would.

However, from a rare English error, the visitors came alive, the bustling full-back Yoann Huget evading an onrushing Henry Slade to break clear and then muscle through May and Tuilagi to send Penaud over.

It was only a brief respite for the French; Ben Youngs dabbed a kick in to an alarmingly vacant backfield and, though Ashton was denied, tighthead Kyle Sinckler spiralled a lovely pass out to Slade to claim England’s bonus point.

As is so often the case, with all the modern-day countless replacements, the second half was less fluent.

A nasty head wound for Tom Curry following a clash of heads with Penaud saw them both depart temporarily but England still remained a class above, Farrell’s kicking and variety of plays proving another masterclass of the fly-half position.

That said, the Red Rose were perhaps fortunate to be awarded a penalty try when, after Slade had intercepted another errant French pass and kicked on, Gael Fickou took out the chasing Ashton.

With a bouncing ball and still 15m out, it was hard to say the winger would definitely have scored. Furthermore, the France player was also sin-binned.

Farrell got a deserved try in the 55th minute after chipping him on himself following Youngs’ quick penalty tap, May showing great pace to put French debutant Thomas Ramos under pressure.

He converted to ensure England’s biggest win over these opponents since a 45-14 success in 2003. And we all know what happened that year.

England: Daly; Ashton (Nowell 52), Slade, Tuilagi (Ford 62), May; Farrell, Youngs (Robson 70); M Vunipola (Moon 44), George (Cowan-Dickie 62), Sinckler (Cole 55), Lawes, Kruis (Launchbury 47), Wilson, Curry (Hughes 47-52 BB), B Vunipola (Hughes 65).

France: Huget (Ramos 40); Penaud (Ntamack 47-57 BB), Bastareaud, Doumayrou, Fickou; Lopez (Ntamack 57), Parra (Dupont 47); Poirot (Priso 65-Poirot 70), Guirado (Bourgarit 76), Bamba (Aldegheri 57), Vahaamahina (Willemse 55), Lambey (Alldritt 70), Camara, Iturria, Picamoles.

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)