Scotland vs France, Sun, 11/02/2018 - 15:00

Scotland
32 - 26
Full time
France
Sunday, 11 February, 2018 - 15:00 | BT Murrayfield

Scotland fought back from ten points deficits on two occasions and scored 12 unanswered points in the final quarter to post their first win of the 2018 NatWest Six Nations Championship in front of an ecstatic BT Murrayfield crowd.

A year ago at the Stade de France, Greig Laidlaw departed crocked and he had not started for Scotland since through a combination of injury and Lions selection. Some questions had been asked: was he still an integral part of this team? You better believe he is.

Twenty two points, an impeccable 100% kicking record but the precious ingredient of composure and control when it was needed most – as the advert says, priceless!

Take a bow, however, the Scotland pack with endless energy from the boilerhouse and Stuart McInally. Cardiff won’t be forgotten but the reaction that everyone demanded was delivered and in spades as Scotland secured their second successive home win against France for the first time since 1992.

France kicked off towards the north stand through Lionel Beauxis and both teams were quick to attack with ball in hand. Ball was in play without a blip for 2 mins 20 seconds and the breathless sequence ended with Teddy Thomas retrieving a bouncing pass to beat Finn Russell in the wide channel on the right and then stepping inside Stuart Hogg to claim the game’s first try. Maxime Machenaud converted. (0-7, 3 mins).

Scotland were penalised at the first scrum – Gordon Reid identified as the culprit from referee Lacey’s perspective – and then as they tried to clear from a retrieval by Greig Laidlaw, Hamish Watson was penalised for holding on in the tackle. Machenaud goaled (0-10, 9 mins).

Greig Laidlaw helped Scotland to a win over FranceIn Scotland’s response, a Glasgow Warriors interchange set up Hogg whose kick forced Thomas to concede a close-range lineout.  Grant Gilchrist caught, Scotland went through the phases and after Hogg had cut back to the left, Jonny Gray and Gilchrist thumped on for Finn Russell to send Sean Maitland in for his seventh try for Scotland.  Greig Laidlaw converted majestically from the touchline (7-10, 13 mins).

France policed a Peter Horne kick for territory skilfully and then retained possession moving first right then left to release the fleet-footed Thomas who followed up his own kick-ahead to seize the bounce that was very much in his favour and completely befuddled the faithfully covering Laidlaw for the winger’s second try. Machenaud converted (7-17, 26 mins).

Russell over-cooked a penalty to touch but Scotland soon recovered with some stunning running. Huw Jones had dazzled with Tommy Seymour on the right and Greig Laidlaw just failed to take an inside pass. From a clearing kick, however Russell found Hogg and with Scotland going through the gears, Laidlaw found Jones on an exquisite line and the centre romped in for his eighth try for Scotland. Laidlaw converted (14-17, 32 mins).

Scotland were beginning to enjoy a bit more of the territory as half-time neared but France pilfered a line-out destined for the hard-working Grant Gilchrist, and then when Maitland was uncorked up the middle, Scotland were penalised for their breakdown work.

Two successive line-out penalties, the second against Jonny Gray for contact with his opposite jumper in the air, gave Machenaud the chance to land his second penalty and extend France’s lead (14-20).

Half-time: Scotland 14-20 France

Scotland made a patient start to the second-half with some purposeful driving from the pack with Gilchrist and Gray at its heart. A breakdown penalty was their reward and Laidlaw goaled (17-20, 43 mins).

Russell once again miscued with a penalty to touch and as Scotland sought to counter off France’s clearance they were penalised for crossing – infuriating cheap points being offered to the visitors – and second-half substitute Baptiste Serin was on target (17-23, 46 mins).

The penalty tit for tat continued apace as Laidlaw immediately replied (20-23, 48 mins).

Serin nudged France back to a 6-point advantage with a penalty for handling in the ruck as both coaches went to their bench (20-26, 57 mins).

Back came Scotland again and Laidlaw’s third penalty on the hour saw the belief sustained (23-26, 60 mins) and from longer-range the latest in the line of Jedburgh nine’s brought the scores level (26-26, 63 mins).

No sooner had he levelled then he was moving to stand-off to accommodate the latest introductions off the bench.

France look rattled but still did well to stifle an attack by holding up a maul and winning the scrum feed.

David Denton’s return to Scotland duty for the first time in 18 months saw some characteristic pulverising drives and with the crowd fully engaged, an off-side call from touch judge Williams saw the new Le Petit General, Laidlaw, go beyond the 600 point mark for Scotland. More relevant to the matter in hand, his strike gave Scotland the lead for the first time (29-26, 68 mins).

And for good measure he was on the button again five minutes later with his sixth penalty of the day raising his personal tally to 22 points.

There was the usual alarm towards the end but who was on the ball when the clock went red? You guessed it .  . . Greig Laidlaw.

Full-time: Scotland 32-26 France

Scotland: Stuart Hogg; Tommy Seymour, Huw Jones, Pete Horne (all Glasgow Warriors), Sean Maitland (Saracens); Finn Russell (Glasgow Warriors), Greig Laidlaw (Clermont Auvergne); Gordon Reid (London Irish), Stuart McInally, Simon Bergan, Grant Gilchrist (all Edinburgh Rugby), Jonny Gray (Glasgow Warriors), John Barclay (Scarlets) CAPTAIIN, Hamish Watson (Edinburgh Rugby), Ryan Wilson (Glasgow Warriors). Subs: Scott Lawson (Newcastle Falcons), Jamie Bhatti (Glasgow Warriors) for Reid (58 mins), Jon Welsh (Newcastle Falcons), Ben Toolis (Edinburgh Rugby) for Gilchrist (58 mins), David Denton (Worcester Warriors),for Barclay (63 mins) Ali Price (Glasgow Warriors) for Russell (63 mins), Chris Harris (Newcastle Falcons), Blair Kinghorn (Edinburgh Rugby).

France: Geoffrey Palis; Teddy Thomas, Remi Lamerat, Geoffrey Doumayrou, Virimi Vakatawa; Lionel Beauxis, Maxime Machenaud; Jefferson Poirot, Guilhem Guirado captain, Rabah Slimani, Arthur Iturria, Sebastien Vahaamahina, Wenceslas Lauret, Yacouba Camara, Marco Tauleigne. Subs: Adrien Pelissie for Guirado (74 mins), Eddy Ben Arous for Poirot (58 mins) Cedate Gomes Sa for Slimani (58 mins), Paul Gabrillagues for Vahaamahina (70 mins) , Louis Picamoles for Tauleigne (58 mins), Baptiste Serin for Machenaud (40 mins), Anthony Belleau for Beauxis (70 mins), Benjamin Fall for Vakatawa (70 mins)

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland). Assistant referees: Nigel Owens (Wales), Paul Williams (New Zealand).  TMO: Rowan Kitt (England). 

Team lineups

Scotland
France

Backs

15 Geoffrey Palis
14 Teddy Thomas
13 Remi Lamerat
12 Geoffrey Doumayrou
11 Virimi Vakatawa
10 Lionel Beauxis
9 Maxime Machenaud

Forwards

1 Jefferson Poirot
2 Guilhem Guirado
3 Rabah Slimani
4 Arthur Itturia
5 Sebastien Vahaamahina
6 Wenceslas Lauret
7 Yacouba Camara
8 Marco Tauleigne

Substitutes

16 Adrien Pelissie
17 Eddy Ben Arous
18 Cedate Gomes Sa
19 Paul Gabrillagues
20 Louis Picamoles
21 Baptiste Serin
22 Anthony Belleau
23 Benjamin Fall
Attendance: 
67 144
NatWest man of the match: 
Greig Laidlaw

NatWest 6 Nations Championship, 2018 latest results

Italy 27 v 29 Scotland
Ireland 28 v 8 Scotland
Scotland 25 v 13 England
Scotland 32 v 26 France
Wales 34 v 7 Scotland