Report - Scotland 17-14 France

Scotland fought back from an 11-point deficit to record their third successive BT Murrayfield victory over France on a sun-kissed afternoon in Edinburgh today.

The result was ample revenge for last week’s heavy loss in Nice and was in fact Scotland’s first win since Italy were put to the sword back in February.

Tries from Sean Maitland and Chris Harris and the ever-reliable boot of captain Greig Laidlaw ensured Scotland the spoils and they now have momentum going into their final two warm-up games against Georgia, before leaving for the Rugby World Cup in Japan next month.

It was shirt-sleeve order at BT Murrayfield – and a decent advert for warm-weather rugby – as Scotland through Stuart Hogg kicked off towards the railway end.

From the first line-out won by Sam Skinner, Scotland went through the phases but never looked as if they were threatening the gain-line. Pete Horne’s pass was intercepted by Damian Penaud who romped in from 40 metres. Thomas Ramos converted (0-7, 2 mins).

Scotland pinched possession at the breakdown from the restart and Hamish Watson had a tilt. France were caught offside and Greig Laidlaw goaled (3-7, 4 mins).

Tommy Seymour looked lively after Scotland forced another turnover, but a penalty enabled France to clear. Seymour’s game however did not last beyond the first quarter as he was replaced by Blair Kinghorn.

Scotland had a scrum in the shadow of the French 22, but ball was spilled, and France hoofed play deep into home territory.

Finn Russell had made a hesitant start but a chip into space hinted at better, although Antoine Dupont was quick to cover, and France were awarded a breakdown penalty.

A superb tackle by Blade Thomson saw Scotland rewarded with a juicy turnover which set Sean Maitland free on the left but a penalty against Ryan Wilson, as Scotland shaped to attack right, brought that promise to an end.

France sent another penalty to the touchline – where Scotland won against the throw – but Kinghorn’s competition for a Russell high ball bequeathed yet another penalty to the French who, at this juncture led the penalty count 6-2 . . .

Hogg conjured a breakout when Scotland were under their own posts but a knock-on by Russell saw France strike with a clinical exploitation of space and pace for Penaud to claim his second try. Ramos goaled (3-14, 27 mins).

Scotland’s scrum had been solid thus far and from a penalty gleaned at that setpiece Hogg fired them into French territory.

The game appeared to be drifting towards half-time but an over-elaborate French handling attack – shortly after Camile Lopez had departed injured – broke down, Chris Harris all but bruised over for the try. Watson had a pop, but Scotland maintained their poise and Russell fired the miss-pass off his right hand to Maitland who was over for his 12thtry for Scotland. Laidlaw struck a wonderful conversion (10-14, 39 mins).

Half-time: Scotland 10 France 14

Thomson, who had enjoyed an encouraging first-half, started the second purposefully and though Penaud was at it again, snaffling a pass from Gordon Reid, Scotland, won a penalty and cleared beyond half-way.

Russell chipped into space to find Kinghorn as Scotland sought to make inroads in the French lead, but the latter’s pass inside was hurried and a half-chance went abegging.

Scotland’s scrum had been solid in the first-half but changes in personnel saw France exert pressure there and take play into the home 22.

However, a turnover and a Russell kick up the tramlines, saw Kinghorn chase venomously and Scotland win a penalty inside the French 22. The lineout went awry but a French knock-on saw Scotland attack off quick scrum ball. Watson again was the catalyst in bringing some pace back to the attack and then Harris cut a delicious line for his second try for Scotland. Laidlaw converted. (17-14, 58 mins).

Skinner hirpled off with a leg injury which meant that Grant Stewart was introduced for his debut and Scotland cap number 1107. Wilson moved into the second row and Turner into the back-row.

Hogg all but blazed over for a try in pursuit of his own kick ahead but the desperately retreating French defence recovered. Penalties went either way and Scotland found themselves back in the French 22 with ten minutes remaining.

Scotland sought to play keep ball into the closing stages but an offside penalty on the 79thminute about 40 metres from the French posts gave the visitors one final chance, and touch was found 32 metres from the Scotland line.

France miscued in the maul set-up, the ball went forward, and it was scrum Scotland with the clock in the red. Scrum won, ball into touch, victory!

Full-time: Scotland 17 France 14

Scotland: Stuart Hogg (Exeter Chiefs); Tommy Seymour (Glasgow Warriors), Chris Harris (Gloucester), Pete Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens); Finn Russell (Racing 92), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne) CAPTAIN; Gordon Reid (Ayrshire Bulls), George Turner (Glasgow Warriors), Willem Nel (Edinburgh Rugby), Scott Cummings (Glasgow Warriors), Sam Skinner (Exeter Chiefs), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors), Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), Blade Thomson (Scarlets).

Subs: Grant Stewart (Glasgow Warriors) for Skinner (60 mins), Allan Dell (London Irish) for Reid (47 mins), Simon Berghan (Edinburgh Rugby) for Nel (56 mins), Grant Gilchrist (Edinburgh Rugby) for Cummings (56 mins), John Barclay (Edinburgh Rugby) for Thomson (42 mins), George Horne (Glasgow Warriors), Rory Hutchinson (Northampton Saints) for Pete Horne (65 mins), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby) for Seymour (16 mins).

France: Thomas Ramos; Damian Penaud, Gael Fickou, Sofiane Guitone, Alivereti Raka; Camille Lopez, Antoine Dupont; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado CAPTAIN, Raba Slimani, Felix Lambey, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Arthur Iturria, Charles Ollivon, Gregor Alldritt.

Subs: Camille Chat for Guirado (50 mins), Cyril Baille for Poirot (50 mins), Emerick Setiano for Slimani (60 mins), Romain Taofifenua for Lambey (50 mins), Yacouba Camara for Alldritt (60 mins), Baptiste Serin for Dupont (60 mins), Romain Ntamack for Lopez (37 mins), Maxime Medard. For Ramos (62 mins)

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland) and Federico Anselmi (Argentina). TMO: Graham Hughes (England).

Man of the match: Hamish Watson (Scotland)

Attendance: 66,181.

live commentary 1:10 PM Saturday 24 Aug 2019

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Kick-off 1:10 PM

Scotland

France

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