Freddie Steward scores England's only try in their record 53-10 Six Nations defeat by France at Twickenham

London (AFP) - Freddie Steward says he hopes the “only way is up” for beleaguered England after a record-breaking defeat by France as they seek to spoil Ireland’s Grand Slam party on Saturday.

England suffered the heaviest home defeat in their history last weekend as the reigning Six Nations champions ran in seven tries during a 53-10 rout of Steve Borthwick’s men.

Having been hammered by France, the world’s second-ranked team, they now face Ireland, top of the global standings, as the hosts bid to complete a championship clean sweep in Dublin for the first time since 2018.

Leicester full-back Steward, who has been a rare shining light for England this season, scored their lone try against a rampant France at Twickenham.

“Saturday was pretty bleak and I’d like to think that from there the only way is up and that we’ll improve,” said Steward.

“Grief is a pretty good way to describe it. It’s never nice to lose, but then to lose by a margin like that is pretty sore.

“The most frustrating thing is that we had ourselves to blame and there’s no shying away from that.”

The 22-year-old added: “At times like this you don’t want to splinter off because then the wheels would fall off. We’re in a good spot at the minute because we’ve stayed tight.

“As (defence coach) Kevin Sinfield has said to us, these weeks define teams. When you go to the depths that we did, that’s where you really challenge yourselves to pull together and come up with something.

“Hopefully we’ll look back on this when we re-gather in a couple of months’ time as a real point where we stepped up and improved.”