Six Nations: Lancaster delighted by England's gritty performance

Stuart Lancaster praised the "character and grit" of his England side as they became the first visitors to win a Six Nations match in France since 2008.

Tries from Manu Tuilagi, Ben Foden and Tom Croft gave England a 24-22 win despite a late French fightback.

"It's fantastic to win here with a side so young and inexperienced," said interim England coach Lancaster.

"We started well. We had periods where we lost composure, but we showed true character and grit to stick in there."

France's last home defeat in the Six Nations came against England in 2008 and Lancaster was delighted to have beaten Les Bleus at the Stade de France.

"I don't think France have lost here for 10 games and we've won. I hope everyone at home enjoyed it, it was a fantastic atmosphere here," he said.

"I thought Tom Croft's try was outstanding but credit to France, they came back and almost fashioned a drop-goal [in the dying seconds] but I thought we deserved it to be honest.

"It comes down to the character the boys showed from one to 22. We'll keep our feet on the ground though, there's a massive game coming up against Ireland."

Because Wales have a 38-point advantage, England will need Warren Gatland's side to lose heavily at home to France next Saturday and then beat the Irish by a large margin to snatch the title.

Blind-side flanker Croft, who scored the crucial third try with a scorching break, described the win against France as "absolutely massive".

"We said after the last game [the 19-12 defeat by Wales] we had got to take the extra step to see teams off and we really dug in. It was a massive effort from the boys and another great step for this side," added the Leicester Tiger.

"We're massively behind [interim coach] Stuart Lancaster. We're a very tight group, we've only been together for this tournament and we've come on leaps and bounds."

Of his try he said: "I saw [France centre] Rougerie go, maybe I should have passed to Ben Foden but I thought I'd have a go myself - luckily it came off."

Lancaster was appointed interim coach after Martin Johnson announced he was resigning following a disappointing World Cup on and off the field.

Lancaster has applied for the full-time job and confirmed that he viewed the result merely as a stepping stone in a long-term plan.

He said: "I've said all along it's not just about the Six Nations and I think everyone deserves credit for buying into that."