Duhan double helps Scots break French hearts

Wales were crowned 2021 Six Nations Champions after France suffered a 27-23 defeat by Scotland in the tournament decider in Paris on Friday.

Final finish: The win had Wales finish on top of the Six Nations table and claim the 2021 title. France came into the match in second place and needed to win with a bonus point and by a margin of 20 points or more to win the title. However, Scotland’s win meant that it was Gregor Townsend’s team who finished second, with France in third, despite an impressive campaign.

Gameflow: This was an encounter that was worthy of closing out a Six Nations tournament that has been as dramatic as any. Both teams showed incredible composure and technique to keep ball in hand, despite playing in the rain in the first half.

After conceding an early try to Duhan van der Merwe, France looked to have regained control of the match when they scored either side of half time, first through fullback Brice Dulin and then via a wonderful effort from wing Damian Penaud. At that stage, France had opened up an 18-10 lead and chances were looking like it was on for them to score another two tries and potentially steal the title.

However, to their credit, Scotland never stopped fighting and not only stopped wave after wave of French attack on their tryline, but also went upfield and got a couple of tries themselves.

Late drama: France looked set to have their hopes of scoring two late tries boosted when Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell was red-carded throwing an elbow into an opposition player’s throat while carrying the ball. However, the numbers were levelled at 14 players each as France’s replacement scrumhalf, Baptiste Serin, was yellow-carded in the final 10 minutes for a cynical foul at a maul. From there, Scotland dominated territory until Van der Merwe went over for the winning try in the 86th minute.

Duhan on the double: When Scotland needed him most, it was their star South African-raised wing who came up trumps. Van der Merwe did excellently to reach over for his first try and he had the decisive touch with his second, stepping past a French defender and sprinting clear to score. He now has eight tries in his first nine appearances for Scotland, an excellent start to his Test career.

France – 15 Brice Dulin, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Virimi Vakatawa, 12 Arthur Vincent, 11 Gael Fickou, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Gregory Alldritt, 7 Charles Ollivon (c), 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Swan Rebbadj, 4 Bernard Le Roux, 3 Mohamed Haouas, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Cyril Baille.
Subs: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Jean-Baptiste Gros, 18 Uini Atonio, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Dylan Cretin, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Bouthier, 23 Teddy Thomas.

Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg (c), 14 Darcy Graham, 13 Chris Harris, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ritchie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Sam Skinner, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 George Turner, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Subs: 16 David Cherry, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Alex Craig, 20 Nick Haining, 21 Scott Steele, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Huw Jones.

Photo: Loic Baratoux/SNS Group via Getty Images

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Dylan Jack