France scored a fourth try in the 88th minute to clinch a 27-10 bonus-point victory against Scotland in Paris on Saturday. MARIETTE ADAMS reports.
After disappointing defeats to Wales and England, this was by far France’s best performance of the Six Nations, although it did come against an injury-plagued Scotland side that played way below their potential.
France utterly bossed the game in the opening quarter and were rewarded for their effort with a 10-point buffer. Scotland fought back to even out the possession and territorial stats, but only had a penalty kick from Greig Laidlaw to show for it.
The first half was an exciting, free-flowing affair played at high intensity and rapid speed. France exploited the flaws in Scotland’s defence, while their own defence stood firm. Wing Damian Penaud looked to have scored a stunning team try, but it was referred to the TMO and replays confirmed there had been a knock-on in the lead-up.
But France continued their relentless onslaught and eventually made the breakthrough when fullback Thomas Ramos used a couple of lethal steps to breach the first line of defence and set up flyhalf Romain Ntamack for one of France’s best tries of the tournament.
Ramos and Laidlaw traded penalties, before Scotland were given a golden opportunity to add to their tally when they pinned France in their own half, only for some good defending to keep them out.
Down to 14 men after Yoann Huget was yellow-carded and without captain Guilhem Guirado, who left the field for an HIA test, France were put under huge pressure on their own tryline, but their defence held firm as a timely intervention from Picomoles handed possession back to the hosts.
In a dream start to the second half, France’s ambitious, yet audacious attack paid off big time as Huget profited from centre Mathieu Bastareaud’s chip-and-chase to score their second of the match. Trailing 15-3, Scotland needed to score next, but France’s stingy defence didn’t give them an inch.
The action fizzled out in the third quarter, but the last 10 minutes of the match made up for it. French replacement loose forward Gregory Alldritt scored a brace, with his second coming in the eighth minute of stoppage time to wrap up a four-try bonus point.
Scotland did cross the line through Ali Price, between Alldritt’s brace, but it was mere consolation.
France – Tries: Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget, Gregory Alldritt (2). Conversions: Thomas Ramos, Baptiste Serin. Penalty: Ramos.
Scotland – Try: Ali Price. Conversion: Adam Hastings. Penalty: Greig Laidlaw.
France – 15 Thomas Ramos, 14 Damian Penaud, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Gaël Fickou, 11 Yoann Huget, 10 Romain Ntamack, 9 Antoine Dupont, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Arthur Iturria, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Félix Lambey, 4 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 3 Demba Bamba, 2 Guilhem Guirado (c), 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Subs: 16 Camille Chat, 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Dorian Aldegheri, 19 Paul Willemse, 20 Gregory Alldritt, 21 Baptiste Serin, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Maxime Medard.
Scotland – 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Pete Horne, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Alex Allan, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Gary Graham, 21 Ali Price, 22 Adam Hastings, 23 Darcy Graham.
Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/Getty Images