Scotland beat France at BT Murrayfield for second straight win

Scotland returned to winning ways at a packed BT Murrayfield with a vengeance this afternoon, dismantling French Grand Slam hopes through a combination of trenchant defence, breakdown savvy and some ruthless finishing.

Scotland thus doubled their GUINNESS Six Nations try tally for the season through a brace from Sean Maitland and a last quarter counter from Stuart McInally. They also built on their victory last time out against Italy and secured their fourth consecutive BT Murrayfield victory against France.

Much has been written about France rediscovering their joie de vivre, but it was their discipline that reverted to the habits of old with Francois Cros yellow carded in the early stages and Mohamed Haouas sent off before half-time.

France lost their substitute hooker Camille Chat to injury during the warm-up. He was replaced by Peatu Mauvaka.

Scotland were led out by hooker Fraser Brown who became the 43rd Scot to win 50 or more caps for his country and only the fourth hooker following in the footsteps of Ross Ford, Gordon Bulloch and Colin Deans to reach that landmark.

France kicked off towards the railway end with Stuart Hogg getting an early touch. Anton Dupont threatened from a breakdown and Scotland were penalised but from 45 metres Romain Ntamack’s effort drifted wide.

Grant Gilchrist was upended in a tackle by Francois Cros after four minutes and after TMO Brian McNeice was called to adjudicate the French flanker was sin binned.

Brown’s lineout throw from the penalty to touch was, sadly, not straight, but after Sean Maitland had a scamper, Stuart Hogg’s up and under was spilled by Romain Ntamack who departed the field moving somewhat gingerly, not to return.

After a reset scrum, France were penalised and from just outside the 22, centre field, Adam Hastings gave Scotland the lead (3-0, 11 mins).

Matthieu Jalibert, the substitute French stand-off escaped up the narrow side from a guddled French lineout but Blair Kinghorn and Hogg saved the day.

Scotland went through the phases with Hogg and Maitland integral and when France didn’t roll away at a ruck eight metres inside their half, Hastings was on target again (6-0, 18 mins).

Into the second quarter and the game was blighted by a series of reset scrums. Scotland seemed to be enjoying the better of proceedings but, from a breakdown penalty awarded against the hosts, France stormed upfield. Maitland had to make a saving tackle on Gael Fickou, but France retained possession and Dupont’s beautifully weighted diagonal kick was grabbed by Damian Penaud for the game’s first try. Jalibert struck a fine conversion (6-7, 33 mins).

Scotland were awarded penalties in quick succession inside the French 22. From the first, Hogg opted for the touchline. Gilchrist caught and though Nick Haining made a dunt in midfield, Ali Price’s pass was intercepted by Penaud. The referee had been playing an advantage and brought play back for a Scotland penalty, at which point there was an outbreak of sustained handbags between the packs, which was marred by a haymaker from Mohamed Haouas right on Jamie Ritchie’s chin.

After much detailed analysis, referee Williams red-carded the French tight-head and Hastings regained the led for the home team with a penalty from under the posts (9-7, 37 mins).

Scotland were awarded a penalty as half-time neared and from the lineout, Hastings made a glorious break, recycled Gilchrist attacked right and Sam Johnson’ pass was perfectly timed to send in Sean Maitland for his 14th try for Scotland and his third at BT Murrayfield in successive matches against the French. Hastings pulled the conversion wide from the touchline. (14-7, HT)

Half-time: Scotland 14 France 7

France launched wave after wave of percussive attacks but then conceded a penalty under the sticks. A vital moment perhaps.

A brief period of kick tennis ensued before Maitland brought the sequence to an end by feeding inside to Hogg.

The captain put on the afterburners and found Chris Harris, who broke and then gave a lovely inside pass to Price at full pace. The scrumhalf was clawed down, but Scotland kept their poise, Jamie Ritchie gave a superb delayed pass and Hastings sent Maitland in for his second try of the match. Hastings converted majestically from the touchline. (21-7, 44 mins)

France had nothing to lose now and threw the ball about with abandon, however, a neck roll by substitute prop Gros on Jamie Ritchie saw Scotland awarded a penalty and take play to the French 22 from Hogg’s boot.

Hamish Watson had to make a vital tackle to thwart another dangerous French attack as the game neared the final quarter with rain now sweeping over the stadium.

Jalibert kicked a penalty to reward another stirring sequence of French handling (21-10, 60mins).

Scotland hit back, as from territory manufactured by Hogg’s kick and chase, France got hands to the lineout but only succeeded in directing it into Stuart McInally’ s path and the hooker blazed in from the 22 for his eighth try for Scotland. Hastings converted as if to underline there was a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. (28-10, 64 mins).

Kyle Steyn was introduced to win his first cap and soon showed his aerial skills all but unleashing Scotland for the bonus point try, only for George Horne to knock on.

France pulled back their second try, inspired by Fickou’ s promptings on the West Stand touchline and duly finished by captain Charles Ollivon. Jalibert converted (28-17, 75mins).

Scotland had one last throw at the dice searching for the try bonus point but Kinghorn’s kick ahead defied even BT Murrayfield’s vast in-goal area.

Full-time: Scotland 28 France 17

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs) CAPTAIN; Sean Maitland (Saracens), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Sam Johnson (Glasgow Warriors), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby); Adam Hastings, Ali Price (both Glasgow Warriors); Rory Sutherland (Edinburgh Rugby), Fraser Brown, Zander Fagerson, Scott Cummings (all Glasgow Warriors), Grant Gilchrist, Jamie Ritchie, Hamish Watson, Nick Haining (all Edinburgh Rugby).

Subs: Stuart McInally (Edinburgh Rugby) for Brown (58 mins), Allan Dell (London Irish) for Sutherland (58 mins), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby) for Fagerson (66 mins), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs) for Cummings ((71 mins), Magnus Bradbury (Edinburgh Rugby) for Haining (58 mins) George Horne (Glasgow Warriors) for Price (58 mins), Duncan Weir (Worcester Warriors) for Johnson (78 mins), Kyle Steyn (Glasgow Warriors) for Maitland (66 mins).

France: Anthony Bouthier; Damian Penaud, Virimi Vakatawa, Arthur Vincent, Gael Fickou; Romain Ntamack, Antonie Dupont; Jefferson Poirot, Julien Marchant, Mohamed Haouas, Bernard Le Roux, Paul Willemse, Francois Cros, Charles Ollivon CAPTAIN, Gregory Alldritt.

Subs: Peatu Mauvaka for Marchant (63 mins), Jean-Baptiste Gros for Poirot (50 mins), Demba Bamba for Cros (48mins), Romain Taofifenua for Willemse (48 mins), Dylan Cretin for Penaud (59 mins), Baptiste Serin for Dupont (77 mins), Matthieu Jalibert for Ntamack (7 mins), Thomas Ramos for Bouthier (71 mins).

Referee: Paul Williams (New Zealand). Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England) and Frank Murphy (Ireland). TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland).

GUINNESS Player of the Match: Jamie Ritchie (Scotland)

Attendance: 67,144

live commentary 3:00 PM Sunday 8 Mar 2020

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Kick-off 3:00 PM



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