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France survive Scotland scare

Date

Julien Guyer

SCOTLAND 17 FRANCE 23

Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg dives over to score the opening try.

Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg dives over to score the opening try. Photo: Stu Forster

EDINBURGH: World Cup finalists France overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Scotland 23-17 at Murrayfield here on Sunday and keep their hopes of a Six Nations Grand Slam alive.

Victory made it two wins out of two for the French, whose previous encounter against Ireland was postponed because of a frozen pitch in Paris.

But the cold truth on Sunday for an improved Scotland was they'd suffered a fifth straight defeat -- and third in as many matches this Six Nations.

Wesley Fofana of France crashes over for a try despite the tackle of Mike Blair.

Wesley Fofana of France crashes over for a try despite the tackle of Mike Blair. Photo: Reuters

Tries from teenager Stuart Hogg and wing Lee Jones gave Scotland hope but these were cancelled out by scores from France centre Wesley Fofana and full-back Maxime Medard, while scrum-half Morgan Parra kicked 10 points.

France captain Thierry Dusautoir admitted his side had been caught cold by the Scots, who lost much needed impetus when Edinburgh half-back duo Mike Blair and Greig Laidlaw went off injured either side of the interval.

"We were taken aback by by the rhythm and dynamism of the Scots in the opening 15 minutes," said the flanker, who was outstanding when he captained France in an 8-7 World Cup final defeat by the All Blacks.

Scotland's lock Richie Gray (L) vies with France's lock Pascal Pape (C) next to Scotland's Duncan Weir. Click for more photos

France scrape home against Scotland

France overcome a 10-point deficit to inflict more pain on Scotland. Photo: AFP

"We got back into it little by little and found our own rhythm and gradually asserted ourselves on the match against a really good Scottish side."

Scotland's Ross Rennie was named man-of-the-match after an impressive display but that was little consolation to the openside flanker.

"We put in another massive effort and to come away with nothing, everyone is pretty down. We made some good breaks and scored some good tries, but on turnover attack the French were awesome and we let them be good."

Greg Laidlaw kicks a conversion for Scotland.

Greg Laidlaw kicks a conversion for Scotland. Photo: AFP

Scotland spent the opening few minutes encamped in France's 22 but it looked like being an all-too familar story when, after several phases against resolute French defence, they knocked on.

But France knocked on themselves from the ensuing scrum and handed possession back to Scotland.

Laidlaw shifted the ball to the blindside and quick hands from Jones sent the diving full-back Hogg in at the right corner in the eighth minute as the 19-year-old, making his first Test start, became Scotland's youngest try-scorer in 79 years.

Laidlaw converted and Scotland were 7-0 up.

Blair then caused more panic in the visitors' defence with a quickly-taken tap penalty before Dusautoir dumped prop Geoff Cross with a shuddering hit.

Laidlaw then kicked a penalty from a ruck infringement after No 8 David Denton and captain Ross Ford had surged downfield and Scotland, against virtually all expectations, were 10-0 in front in the 26th minute.

France though eventually showed their class two minutes later when fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc went straight through an attempted challenge by Laidlaw.

Quick hands from Parra and Vincent Clerc then sent in Fofana, running a sharp angle, for what was the centre's second try in as many Tests.

Parra converted and Scotland's lead was down to 10-7.

Scotland then lost Rory Lamont after he landed awkwardly while contesting a re-start with Louis Picamoles and Robinson said later the Glasgow back had suffered a suspected broken leg.

One area where France were maintaining their anticipated advantage was the scrum and when Scotland collapsed the set-piece shortly before half-time, Parra kicked a 35 metre penalty.

But he missed another before the break as a breathless first half ended all square at 10-10.

After the frenetic opening 40 minutes, France resumed in more composed fashion with their pack driving through several phases before Scotland infringed. Parra kicked the 47th minute penalty and France, who had been 10 points behind, were now three in front at 13-10.

Even so, it was Scotland who scored the next try.

Flanker John Barclay forced a turnover at a ruck and was then back on his feet to feed Nick de Luca.

The ball was then worked to Jones as the wing went in for his first try for his country. Duncan Weir, on for the injured Laidlaw, kicked the conversion and Scotland were 17-13 ahead.

Scotland though were behind again within minutes.

France wing Julien Malzieu ran through the attempted challenge of Jones and released Medard for a try under the posts.

Parra added the simple conversion and France were 20-17 up heading into the final quarter.

Scotland then gifted France turnover ball and the visitors' drove deep into the 22, creating the platform for Lionel Beauxis to land a drop-goal that gave the French a six-point lead with 11 minutes remaining.

And that proved too much to overcome for Scotland, who at full-time were left facing yet another battle to avoid the wooden spoon.

FRANCE 23 (Wesley Fofana, Maxime Medard tries; Morgan Parra 2 con, 2 pens; Lionel Beauxis drop goal) def SCOTLAND 17 (Stuart Hogg, Lee Jones tries; Greig Laidlaw, Duncan Weir con; Laidlaw pen). Referee: Wayne Barnes (ENG). Att: 67,144

AFP

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CHT 0vs Jagu 0 04:00FSS
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HIG 0vs HUR 0 17:35FBS
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SHA 0vs Jagu 0 04:10GpKP
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BLU 0vs HUR 0 17:35EP
FOR 0vs BRU 0 22:05nib Stadium
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HIG 0vs LIO 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs RED 0 19:40AAMI
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King 0vs CHF 0 00:00NMBS
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Fri, 18 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 0vs FOR 0 17:35Central Energy Trust Arena
WAR 0vs HIG 0 19:40AS
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BUL 0vs SHA 0 04:00Loftu
Sunw 0vs REB 0 15:15Prince Chichibu Memorial Stadium
CRU 0vs King 0 17:35AMI
RED 0vs BLU 0 19:40SS
Sun, 20 MarTimes shown AEDT
LIO 0vs CHT 0 02:05Emirates Airlines Park
STO 0vs BRU 0 04:10DHL Newlands
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Fri, 25 MarTimes shown AEDT
HUR 0vs King 0 17:35WS
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CHF 0vs FOR 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
REB 0vs HIG 0 19:40AAMI
Sunw 0vs BUL 0 21:50Singapore National Stadium
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CHT 0vs BRU 0 00:00FSS
SHA 0vs CRU 0 02:05GpKP
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HIG 0vs FOR 0 17:35FBS
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Fri, 15 AprTimes shown AEST
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HUR 0vs CHF 0 17:35WS
FOR 0vs WAR 0 19:40nib Stadium
STO 0vs RED 0 23:00DHL Newlands
Sun, 24 AprTimes shown AEST
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BRU 0vs BUL 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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CHF 0vs HIG 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
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Fri, 13 MayTimes shown AEST
HIG 0vs CRU 0 17:35FBS
REB 0vs BRU 0 19:40AAMI
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HUR 0vs RED 0 17:35WS
WAR 0vs BUL 0 19:40AS
Sunw 0vs STO 0 21:45Singapore National Stadium
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CHT 0vs King 0 01:05FSS
LIO 0vs BLU 0 03:10Emirates Airlines Park
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Fri, 20 MayTimes shown AEST
CRU 0vs WAR 0 17:35AMI
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RED 0vs Sunw 0 15:05SS
CHF 0vs REB 0 17:35FMG Stadium Waikato
FOR 0vs BLU 0 19:40nib Stadium
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Sun, 22 MayTimes shown AEST
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Fri, 27 MayTimes shown AEST
HUR 0vs HIG 0 17:35WS
WAR 0vs CHF 0 19:40AS
Sat, 28 MayTimes shown AEST
King 0vs Jagu 0 03:00NMBS
BLU 0vs CRU 0 17:35EP
BRU 0vs Sunw 0 19:40GIO Stadium
STO 0vs CHT 0 23:00DHL Newlands
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BUL 0vs LIO 0 01:05Loftu
REB 0vs FOR 0 16:05AAMI
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CHT 0vs FOR 0 23:00FSS
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King 0vs HIG 0 03:10NMBS
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RED 0vs CHF 0 19:40SS
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CRU 0vs REB 0 17:35AMI
WAR 0vs HUR 0 19:40AS
FOR 0vs STO 0 21:45nib Stadium
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SHA 0vs CHT 0 03:10GpKP
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BLU 0vs WAR 0 17:35EP
RED 0vs REB 0 19:40SS
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CRU 0vs HUR 0 15:15AMI
HIG 0vs CHF 0 17:35FBS
BRU 0vs FOR 0 19:40GIO Stadium
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CHT 0vs BUL 0 03:10FSS
Jagu 0vs LIO 0 07:00Estadio Jose Amalfitani
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