France registered their first victory of this year’s Six Nations when they beat Scotland 27-10 in an entertaining contest in Paris on Saturday.
After suffering defeats to Wales and England in their two previous matches, Les Bleus came in for plenty of criticism, but they delivered a much-improved performance in this fixture and were full value for their win.
By contrast, Scotland battled to get going as they committed too many unforced errors, although they held a slight edge in the possession and territorial stakes.
In the end, France were deserved winners as they were better on attack and eventually outscored their visitors by four tries to one.
The opening exchanges were frantic with both sides giving the ball plenty of air and France thought they had opened the scoring in the eighth minute when Damian Penaud dotted down in the right-hand corner. His effort was disallowed, however, as television replays revealed a knock on from Antoine Dupont in the build-up.
France put that disappointment behind them but continued to attack and in the 13th minute Thomas Ramos tore the Scottish defence to shreds with a mazy run in which he beat four defenders. He got a pass out to Penaud, who was brought to ground inside the visitors’ 22 but the ball was recycled quickly and Romain Ntamack did well to glide through a gap before crossing for his first Test try.
Ramos slotted the conversion and added a penalty in the 18th minute after Scotland were penalised at a breakdown.
Shortly afterwards, Greig Laidlaw had an opportunity to open his side’s account from the kicking tee but his effort struck an upright.
Laidlaw had a chance to make up for that miss in the 26th minute – when Mathieu Bastareaud infringed at a ruck – and he did just that which reduced Les Bleus’ lead to seven points.
In the 28th minute, France were dealt a blow when Yoann Huget was yellow carded for slowing the ball down cynically at a ruck just inside his half.
Despite that setback, they stayed true to their attacking roots with Ntamack shining with his playmaking skills and in the 31st minute he delivered a superb chip kick which was gathered by Gaël Fickou, who crossed the whitewash. Their joy was short-lived, however, as there was a knock-on from Wenceslas Lauret in the build-up.
Soon after, Ramos lined up another shot at goal from close to the posts but his effort was a horrible one and wide of the target which meant the match was evenly poised with France leading 10-3 at half-time.
France were fastest out of the blocks in the second half and they went onto the attack from the restart. Penaud, Bastareaud and Louis Picamoles came to the fore with strong runs before Dupont got a pass out to Huget, who stepped past a defender before dotting down.
The rest of the half saw Scotland upping the ante on attack but despite several forays into Les Bleus’ half, they could not convert those chances into points.
France finished stronger though, with their forwards particularly impressive, and in the 75th minute they put in a huge shove at a scrum on Scotland’s five-metre line before Gregory Alldritt barged over from the base of the scrum.
That gave Les Bleus a 20-3 lead but Scotland struck back from the restart when Pete Horne broke through the home side’s defence before throwing an inside pass to Ali Price, who scored under the posts.
That try did not deter France though and just before full-time Alldritt dotted down again but his effort was disallowed due to a double movement. France were awarded a penalty, however, and they opted to take a scrum and shortly afterwards Alldritt powered his way over the whitewash for his second try which secured a bonus point win for his team.
Tries: Ntamack, Yuget, Alldritt 2
Cons: Ramos, Serin
Yellow Card: Huget
|February 23, 2019||16:00||Guinness Six Nations||Guinness Six Nations 2019||80'|
|Stade de France|
|Team||Losing Bonus Point||Penalty||Tries||Conversions||4 TRY BP||Points||Outcome|