Greig Laidlaw kicked six second-half penalties as Scotland claimed a gutsy 32-26 win over France at Murrayfield on Sunday. CRAIG LEWIS reports.
Considering Scotland meekly succumbed to a 34-7 loss against Wales last weekend, this was a particularly impressive performance from them. They have become an increasingly difficult team to beat at home.
A vociferous home crowd certainly had reason to celebrate in the end as Scotland overturned a six-point half-time deficit, with Laidlaw capitalising on France’s ill-discipline by producing a flawless performance from the kicking tee.
It took a while, but in the 71st minute Scotland established a lead for the first time in the clash, and they displayed the necessary composure to close out a deserved victory from there.
The first half was an entertaining and competitive affair, with France winger Teddy Thomas scoring two stunning solo tries, while Scotland hit back through Sean Maitland and former Stormers centre Huw Jones.
The difference at the break proved to be two penalties to France scrumhalf Maxine Machenaud – the last of which came with the final play of the half – and enabled the visitors to establish a handy 20-14 lead.
However, the third quarter proved to be a penalty-riddled affair as Laidlaw and French replacement Serin Baptiste traded a couple of goal kicks as each side desperately sought to establish some sort of ascendancy.
France’s discipline continued to let them down, though, with Laidlaw making no mistake with two more place kicks to draw the scores level at 26-26 heading into the final 15 minutes.
Another French error then gifted Laidlaw one further three-pointer, and Scotland led for the first time in the contest. Laidlaw added one more penalty for good measure before full-time to see the Scots to an important win.
Scotland – Tries: Sean Maitland, Huw Jones. Conversions: Greig Laidlaw (2). Penalties: Laidlaw (6).
France – Tries: Teddy Thomas (2). Conversions: Maxine Machenaud (2). Penalties: Machenaud (2), Serin Baptiste (2).
Scotland – 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Huw Jones, 12 Peter Horne, 11 Sean Maitland, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Greig Laidlaw, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 John Barclay (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Simon Berghan, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Gordon Reid.
Subs: 16 Scott Lawson, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Ben Toolis, 20 Dave Denton, 21 Ali Price, 22 Chris Harris, 23 Blair Kinghorn.
France – 15 Geoffrey Palis, 14 Teddy Thomas, 13 Rémi Lamerat, 12 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Maxine Machenaud, 8 Marco Tauleigne, 7 Yacouba Camara, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Sébastien Vahaamahina, 4 Arthur Iturria, 3 Rabah Slimani, 2 Guilhem Guirado, 1 Jefferson Poirot.
Subs: 16 Adrien Pelissié, 17 Ben Arous, 18 Cedate Gomes Sa, 19 Paul Gabrillagues, 20 Louis Picamoles, 21 Serin Baptiste, 22 Anthony Belleau, 23 Benjamin Fall.
Photo: Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images