Luke Cowan-Dickie, a key figure in Exeter Chiefs’ maiden Heineken Champions Cup success last season, turned national hero on Sunday as his last-gasp try put England on the way to a sudden-death 22-19 victory over France in a thrilling Autumn Nations Cup final at Twickenham. 

An inexperienced French team led 19-12 heading into the final seconds thanks to 14 points from the boots of Bordeaux Bègles fly-half Matthieu Jalibert and his replacement, RC Toulon’s Louis Carbonel, plus an early try from La Rochelle fullback Brice Dulin. 

But then Cowan-Dickie, who scored three tries in Exeter’s magnificent European campaign last term, powered home on the back of an England maul in the 80th minute and with Owen Farrell tying the scores at 19-19, the game went into extra time. 

The 2017 EPCR European Player of the Year, who had a mixed day with the boot, then clinched the trophy with a penalty in the second period of extra time. 

On Saturday, Munster Rugby wing Keith Earls was the star of the show as Ireland sealed third place with a 31-16 victory over Scotland at Dublin’s Aviva Stadium. 

The 33-year-old, who has 21 tries in 70 European appearances for the province, touched down either side of the interval to inspire Ireland to victory. 

Edinburgh Rugby fly-half Jaco van der Walt and Leinster Rugby fly-half Jonathan Sexton exchanged firsthalf penalties before Earls’ first try gave Ireland an 11-9 lead at the break. 

Another Leinster star, prop Cian Healy, rumbled over before Earls’ second try early in the second period, with both being converted by Sexton 

Scotland replied with a try from Edinburgh winger Duhan van der Merwe, but the gap was too great for the visitors to make up. 

Also on Saturday, Bristol Bears fly-half Callum Sheedy kicked 13 points for Wales as they overcame a stubborn Italy side 38-18 iLlanelli. 

The Italians kept it close in the first period, trailing by a single point at the break, but tries from the Scarlets duo of Kieran Hardy and Gareth Davies put Wales on the road to fifth place.