Camille Lopez kicked five penalties as France beat Scotland 15-8 in Paris, writes SIMON BORCHARDT.
Les Bleus wore unfamiliar red jerseys for this Six Nations clash, but it didn't result in a red-hot performance, with the visitors scoring the only try of the game.
Based on these 80 minutes, France will struggle against serious title-contenders England, Ireland and Wales in the weeks' ahead.
Scotland, meanwhile, will be proud of their efforts at the Stade de France, even though they didn't produce a win.
Jonny Gray stole the hosts' first lineout of the match but Blair Cowan was penalised for holding on at the next ruck and Camille Lopez gave France an early 3-0 lead, with his penalty coming in off the upright.
Scotland dominated the next period of play and deservedly drew level through Greig Laidlaw, only for Lopez to slot another penalty. The French flyhalf would have added another three at the end of the first quarter, but feedback from the assistant referee saw the penalty being reversed.
South African-born Scott Spedding showed why he had been retained at fullback for France when, having already made an impact with ball in hand, he pulled off a try-saving tackle on Stuart Hogg. Finn Russell's drop-goal attempt then went wide and Scotland had nothing to show for that sustained attack.
Lopez's third penalty gave France a 9-3 lead, but the Scots hit back with an excellent try just before the break. Alex Dunbar's offload saw Hogg stopped just short of the line, but the visitors then spread the ball wide on the right-hand side, and Dougie Fife took advantage of the overlap. While the conversion was unsuccessful, the visitors were right back in the game.
Lopez put France ahead 12-8 on the 50-minute mark, and shortly afterwards Rory Kockott, who had provided good service to Lopez in his first Test start, was substituted by Morgan Parra. Lopez then hit the post with his fifth penalty-goal attempt.
Scotland were reduced to 14 men in the 62nd minute when Johnnie Beattie was yellow-carded for pulling down a French maul, although he probably prevented a try by doing so. France would score no points while he was off, but a fifth penalty from Lopez gave them a seven-point lead.
France – Penalties: Camille Lopez (5).
Scotland – Try: Dougie Fife. Penalty: Greig Laidlaw.
France – 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Yoann Huget, 13 Mathieu Bastareaud, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Teddy Thomas, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Bernard le Roux, 7 Damien Chouly, 6 Thierry Dusautoir, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Pascal Papé, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Alexandre Menini.
Subs: 16 Benjamin Kayser, 17 Uini Atonio, 18 Eddy Ben Arous, 19 Romain Taofifenua, 20 Loann Goujon, 21 Morgan Parra, 22 Rémi Talès, Rémi Lamerat.
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw (c), 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Blair Cowan, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Euan Murray, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Subs: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Jim Hamilton, 20 Alasdair Strokosch, 21 Sam Hidaldo-Clyne, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Dougie Fife.
Photo: Franck Fife/AFP Photo