Les Bleus secure 36-17 bonus-point win over Scotland at BT Murrayfield


France remain on track for Grand Slam

Fabien Galthie spoke before France’s trip to BT Murrayfield of Scotland’s wingers walking on water in recent matches. Yet it was the French backs who showed plenty of fluidity as they won this Six Nations match 36-17.

Whether it was the stepping of Antoine Dupont, the gliding runs of Gael Fickou or the soft hands of Jonathan Danty, they were slick and quick and continually caught out Scottish defenders.

And it wasn’t just the backs. Their first two tries at BT Murrayfield saw a front-rower deliver the scoring pass, the players in the pack just as skilful.

Scotland did have bums-off-seat moments of their own, but the accuracy was lacking and their tendency to run it from their own half often opened the door for the visitors.

Where the French passing was crisp, the ball finding its intended target, the Scots failed to find hands, with knock-ons and dropped balls sure to make painful viewing over the coming days. Here’s a prime example…

So back to les Bleus and the type of rugby that is simply a joy to watch; their attack was irrepressible at times.

It was Dupont who sparked the play that led to a brilliant French try early on. Fielding a kick close to his own 22, he broke upfield, stepped around a handful of Scotland defenders and made it to the opposition 22 before being brought down.

The ball was quickly recycled, Cyril Baille hit a powerful line and quick hands from Fickou and Julien Marchand released Paul Willemse to power over the line in the eighth minute.

Baille provided the decisive offload for Yoram Moefana five minutes later too. Melvyn Jaminet earned France a lineout in the Scottish 22 with a 50:22 kick, Cameron Woki won the lineout and quick hands in midfield created space for Damian Penaud on the wing.

He fed Baille close to the line and the prop in turn fired the ball to Moefana, who had moved from the centre to the wing for this game, to go over from close range.

Rory Darge scored a try on his first Scotland start to get the hosts back into this match at 12-10 after half an hour – the openside flanker the shining light in this Scottish performance.

However, the magic of the French backs saw them deliver hammer blows to Scottish hopes either side of half-time.

First a beautiful Fickou run across the pitch saw him go over in the corner in the last play of the opening 40, albeit that Ali Price should have done better with his tackle attempt.

Then, just four minutes after the break, Danty scored the bonus-point try when the ball bounced over the heads of Scotland’s defenders and into the centre’s grateful hands to present him with a simple run-in.

Penaud made it five tries just before the hour mark as France secured a turnover on the Scottish 10m line and spun the ball wide, with the winger sprinting into the corner.

The match petered out somewhat in the final quarter but there was still time for France to deliver another moment to savour. This time it came from a Romain Ntamack cross-field kick, which landed perfectly into the hands of Penaud and over he went for a second.

Scotland had the final say on the scoreboard when a Blair Kinghorn break set up Duhan van der Merwe, but their wait to put themselves in title contention goes on for yet another season.

In contrast, France are undoubtedly the team to beat in this Six Nations and they head to Cardiff another step closer to a first Grand Slam in 12 years.

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