By Katie Field, Rugby World writer
In a nutshell
Scotland took advantage of a slow start from a French team that hadn’t played for three weeks and built a 10-0 lead in the first 25 minutes with a try from teenage full-back Stuart Hogg and a conversion and penalty from Greig Laidlaw. But it all went wrong in the next 15 minutes as a Wesley Fofana try and a conversion and penalty from Morgan Parra made in 10-10 at half-time – by which time Scotland had lost Mike Blair and Rory Lamont to injury.
The second half took a while to warm up, but when it did it reached boiling point as Scotland brought their fans to their feet with a try from Lee Jones, only for France to hit back in kind through Maxime Medard three minutes later. The conversion, and an earlier penalty from Parra, put France 20-17 ahead and a Lionel Beauxis drop-goal sealed the deal for the visitors. Scotland fought to the last, but handling errors crept in and they couldn’t break down the French again.
Maxime Medard’s try after 58 minutes gave France the lead for the second time and forced Scotland to play catch-up rugby.
Ross Rennie was the RBS Man of the Match for a great all-round performance, and Stuart Hogg also shone on his first start.
Room for improvement
The French lost several lineout throws to Scotland, so have something to work on there. Scotland’s scrum was under pressure and they conceded too many penalties and free-kicks there. Also, the dreaded knock-ons crept into the Scotland game in the second half.
France coach Philippe Saint-Andre: “I am proud of my team. It was physical and hard but we didn’t panic. Our scrum was very strong in the second half. The impact players did their job. Now there is a huge game for us in the Stade de France next Sunday, if it’s not freezing!”
Scotland captain Ross Ford: “We showed today that we are on the right track. We are scoring tries. But when it gets to this level and when you get into these situations you need to handle that and really screw the nut on other teams.”
Scotland won the ball 37 times in the French 22, compared to 14 for France in the Scotland 22. The Scots completed 212 passes, while France managed just 137, but 15 missed tackles cost the home side.
Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Rory Lamont (Nick de Luca 30 min), Sean Lamont, Graeme Morrison, Lee Jones; Greig Laidlaw (Duncan Weir 48 min), Mike Blair (Chris Cusiter 30 min); Allan Jacobsen, Ross Ford (capt, Scott Lawson 68 min), Geoff Cross (Ed Kalman 61 min), Richie Gray, Jim Hamilton (Al Kellock 68 min), John Barclay, Ross Rennie, David Denton (Richie Vernon 52 min).
France: Maxime Médard (Lionel Beauxis 61 min); Vincent Clerc, Aurélien Rougerie, Wesley Fofana, Julien Malzieu; François Trinh-Duc, Morgan Parra (Julian Dupuy 74 min); Jean-Baptiste Poux (Vincent Debaty 50 min), Dimitri Szarzewski (William Servat 50 min), Nicolas Mas, Pascal Papé, Yoann Maestri (Lionel Nallet 65 min), Thierry Dusautoir (capt), Imanol Harinordoquy, Louis Picamoles (Julien Bonnaire 60 min).
Tries (2): Stuart Hogg, Lee Jones. Cons (2): Greig Laidlaw, Duncan Weir. Pen: Greig Laidlaw.
Tries (2): Wesley Fofana, Maxime Medard. Cons2 Parra (2). Pens: Parra (1). Drop-goal: Beauxis (1)
Referee Wayne Barnes
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