* Foden try steers England to vital win
* England eye first title since 2003 (adds details)
England battled through a determined French challenge to win a riveting Twickenham duel 17-9 on Saturday and remain on course for their first Six Nations title since 2003 and a possible grand slam.
The teams went into the eagerly-awaited showdown having won their first two matches with the game billed as a potential title decider. After turning round at 9-9, England won with the only try by Ben Foden and another penalty by Jonny Wilkinson.
The victory made it 10 in the last 12 at Twickenham for England over France in championship matches and will give them something of a psychological boost ahead of a potential quarter-final meeting at the World Cup later this year.
Local pride was at stake on Saturday, however, with England enjoying being back in the mix for the Six Nations title after so many years of struggle.
Both teams set about the game showing a confidence born of winning their opening matches but neither was able to gain any sustained control during a fiercely-fought first half.
Three Toby Flood penalties had England leading 9-3 after 20 minutes but three from Dimitri Yachvili ensured it was level at 9-9 at the break.
France showed glimpses of their talent with ball in hand but it was their aggressive forward play, particularly when counter-rucking, that had England on the back foot.
The home halfbacks, Ben Youngs and Flood, found it hard going against the powerful French centres Aurelien Rougerie and Yannick Jauzion as coach Marc Lievremont's tactics of beefing up his side looked to be paying off.
England's execution was their poorest of the championship so far with some wayward passing combining with the concession of some unnecessary penalties wasting their own good positions and allowing France easy shots at goal.
Yachvili did miss one just before the break and the scrumhalf had more cause from concern straight after it when his clearing kick was charged down by Tom Palmer.
England gained possession and moments later sent Foden in the corner for the first try of the match.
They thought they had the second within a minute only for Chris Ashton's score -- complete with trademark dive -- to be called back for a forward pass.
England were far more aggressive and stretched their lead to 17-9 when Wilkinson came off the bench to replace a limping Flood and landed a long-range penalty with his first touch.
Rougerie blew a great chance for France's first try when he knocked on trying to dive on the ball over the line but it was something of a rare French foray as England tightened the screw.
When Yachvili sent a penalty against a post it seemed it was not going to be France's day and, despite their determined efforts during a frantic last quarter, England's defence was rarely troubled as they secured a hugely important win.
England's next game is against Scotland at Twickenham on March 13 before they finish off versus Ireland in Dublin on March 19 while France next visit Italy on March 12 before hosting Wales in their final game.