Late Duhan van der Merwe try delivers historic Six Nations victory


Scotland beat France in Paris for first time in 22 years

Paris when it drizzles! This Six Nations finale at the Stade de France may not have been the end-to-end display of running rugby expected – the wet conditions playing their part – but it still delivered plenty of drama, as so many games in this year’s championship have.

The match featured six tries, two sin-binnings and a red card, but it was the 20-plus phases leading to Duhan van der Merwe’s late score that stood out as Scotland beat France in Paris for the first time this century.

The cheers at Scotland’s 27-23 victory were matched in Wales, as the fact France failed in their attempt to score four tries and win by 21 points mean it is Alun Wyn Jones’s side who lift the championship title.

Related content: How Wales won the 2021 Six Nations

Here’s how the game played out…

Scotland beat France in Paris for first time in 22 years

Midway through the first half Scotland led 10-3 thanks to a van der Merwe try and a conversion and penalty from Finn Russell.

There were question marks over the winger’s try, which came following a five-metre lineout. George Turner broke from the maul first, then Hamish Watson made some ground before van der Merwe picked up and burrowed over. The French queried the score for a double movement but referee Wayne Barnes stuck with his decision.

Scotland’s kicking game – and France’s attempts to run the ball out of their 22 – kept the hosts pinned in their own half for much of the first half-hour, but then momentum swung les Bleus’ way.

The Scots conceded a succession of penalties and the pressure eventually told from a five-metre scrum. Gregory Alldritt broke from the back and fed Antoine Dupont, who sent a huge pass out to Damian Penaud. The wing stepped infield and offloaded to Brice Dulin to score in the corner. Romain Ntamack converted from the touchline to make it 13-10.

Scotland beat France in Paris for first time in 22 years

Brice Dulin scores for France just before half-time after being put in by Damian Penaud, right (Inpho)

Things got worse for Scotland before the half-time whistle when Stuart Hogg was sin-binned, a victim of repeated infringements by his team. From that penalty, Ntamack kicked to the corner but Nick Haining made a crucial intervention to steal the lineout.

France got their second try early soon after the break – and it was a beauty. Dulin marked a kick in the French 22, then tapped and ran. Next came Ntamack and then Arthur Vincent, which took play to halfway.

Virimi Vakatawa took the move on and produced a sublime offload to Penaud, who chipped ahead and touched down his own kick despite being felled by Ali Price. Barnes was due to award a penalty try for an off-the-ball tackle by Price had Penaud not already scored the try.

Penaud launched another attack from his own line in the 54th minute that saw Gael Fickou take play to the Scotland 22 but the visitors secured possession following a Dupont chip, were awarded a penalty and took play deep into the French half.

Sam Johnson got close to scoring from a set lineout move but he was brought down a few metres from the posts. France then conceded a series of penalties and Scotland opted for a series of five-metre lineouts, which led to another David Cherry try.

The hooker scored twice against Italy and crossed again in Paris. Scotland won ball at the back of the lineout, set the maul and as Swan Rebbadj ripped the ball it fell perfectly for Cherry, who darted over. Russell’s conversion gave Scotland a two-point lead.

Scotland beat France in Paris for first time in 22 years

Hooker George Turner roars his approval as Scotland open up an early lead at Stade de France (inpho)

Rebbadj was quick to make amends, finding a big gap to dive over from close range following a couple of lineouts close to the Scottish line. Ntamack missed the conversion, making it 23-20 going into the last 15 minutes.

Scotland came again and opted for more lineouts rather than a kick at goal that would have drawn the scores level. It was to no avail as Russell was sent off in the 71st minute for leading with the forearm to the neck of tackler Dulin – the fifth red card in this year’s Six Nations.

It was 14 men v 14 men for the closing minutes, however, as France’s penalty count grew too high and Baptiste Serin was the one shown yellow.

Penalties were awarded this way and that as the match drew to a close, but it was the Scots who took the most advantage – kicking into France’s 22 and launching from their lineout once more. They showed great patience to go through more than 20 phases to eventually create the space for van der Merwe to cross out wide.

Adam Hastings added the final flourish with a conversion to leave Scots and Welsh united in delight. Despite their historic win, Scotland finish fourth in the table and dejected France take the runners-up spot behind the Welsh.

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