Scotland v France: winning streak brought to an end by Les Bleus

Hosts had a couple of late opportunities to salvage a draw but can have no real complaints about the result

Virimi Vakatawa shrugs off Blair Kinghorn on his way to the try line. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk
Virimi Vakatawa shrugs off Blair Kinghorn on his way to the try line. Image: © Craig Watson - www.craigwatson.co.uk

Scotland 15

France 22

DAVID BARNES @ Murrayfield

REALITY bit for Gregor Townsend’s men when their run of five wins in a row hit the buffers against a French side who dominated them physically and kept their discipline at key moments.

This was an arm-wrestle, dominated by often conservative kicking and determined defence, and there can be no real complaints about the outcome, even if Scotland were still within striking distance and had two opportunities to salvage a draw at the end.

Scotland now look set to finish second in Pool B of this Autumn Nations Cup, which means they will probably face Ireland in Dublin in the 3rd/4th place play-off in a fortnight’s time, although a freak set of results could mean it is either England or Wales.

The big positive Scotland can take out of this match is that, after a wobbly start, they were never really in danger of being totally overrun by a French team who represented a real step-up in class to the other sides faced in recent weeks.

On the negative side, they struggled to really impose themselves both sides of the ball and, if truth be told, the final score-line flattered them, because it was France who left two of three gilt-edged try-scoring opportunities out on the park.

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France dominated the opening exchanges and helped themselves to a six-point lead through two Thomas Ramos penalties. They might have been further ahead but Virimi Vakatawa couldn’t quite get hold of the ball as it bobbled in the in-goal area following a neat prod through by Gael Fickou.

Despite struggling to make meaningful headway in the tight exchanges, the hosts bounced back to level the scores with a couple of Duncan Weir penalties (for a lazy offside against Demba Bamba and an illegal jackal by Camille Chat), and the pendulum continued to swing back and forth.

Matthieu Jalibert drilled home a long-range drop-goal to make 6-9, Weir fired over his third penalty of the afternoon when Dylan Cretin interfered with Ali Price at the base of a ruck to make it 9-9, Matt Fagerson was penalised for not releasing on the deck straight from the restart allowing Ramos to take the score to 9-12, and Weir squared it with penalty number four just three minutes before he break.

Scotland spent the final few minutes in the half under serious pressure, with their overpowered scrum conceding a penalty which France kicked to the corner, but when Vakatawa was held up over the line the home side was able to escape down the tunnel with it still level.


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That was the second time the flying French centre got the line without getting the ball down during the first half, and he made absolutely sure of it being third time lucky in the second minute of the second half, when a first-phase strike-move saw Fickou release Vincent Rattez with a neat inside pass, before Vakatawa showed tremendous pace and power to hold off Blair Kinghorn and Stuart Hogg on his way to the line.

Scotland kept in touch with Weir kicking another offside penalty, but France looked the stronger side – squeezing the hosts with their maul, and stretching them with their back-play – and they will have been frustrated that they emerged from a strong spell with only another Ramos penalty to show all the good stuff they did.

With just over four minutes to go, Scotland had a chance to salvage a draw, when Duhan van der Merwe pressurised – pushed – Fickou into conceding a five-metre line-out, but possession was scrappy and the French swamped Jamie Ritchie, who then compounded the penalty he had conceded to not releasing by getting his team marched five-metres further backwards for pushing an opponent in the face as they tussled on the deck.

There was still time for another Scottish opportunity, when Vakatawa was penalised on the deck, but skipper Hogg overcooked his kick to the corner and the chance was lost. Scotland had to make do with a losing bonus-point.

Ken Scotland Autobiography

Teams –

Scotland: S Hogg; B Kinghorn (S Maitland 62), C Harris, S Johnson (D Taylor 73), D van der Merwe; D Weir, A Price; O Kebble (J Bhatti 68), F Brown (G Turner 68), S Berghan (Z Fagerson 44), S Cummings, J Gray (S Skinner 68), J Ritchie, H Watson (B Thomson 62), M Fagerson.

France: T Ramos; T Thomas, V Vakatawa, G Fickou, V Rattez (A Vincent 71); M Jalibert, A Dupont; J Gros (C Baille 54), C Chat (J Marchand 54), D Bamba (M Haouas 56), B Le Roux, R Taofifenua (P Willemse 62), D Cretin, C Ollivon, G Alldritt.

Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)

 

Scorers –

Scotland: Pens: Weir 5.

France: Try: Vakatawa; Con: Ramos; Pens: Ramos 4; DG: Jalibert

Scoring sequence (Scotland first): 0-3; 0-6; 3-6; 6-6; 6-9; 9-9; 9-12; 12-12 (h-t) 12-17; 12-19; 15-19; 15-22.


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Ken Scotland Autobiography
David Barnes
About David Barnes 2059 Articles
David has worked as a freelance rugby journalist since 2004 covering every level of the game in Scotland for publications including The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, The Scotsman/Scotland on Sunday/Evening News, The Herald/Sunday Herald, The Daily Mail/Mail on Sunday and The Sun.

14 Comments

  1. So now we have the opposite of 2 years ago – we can undoubtedly defend but we are unable to attack… The backs looked clueless and the forwards were under the cosh. A very disappointing performance the only saving grace was the fact Maitland and Taylor definitely seemed to add something to the mix. We definitely miss Russell and Hastings.

  2. Should have given Hidalgo-Clyne a run. Price’s box kicks were spot on but we need a half-back who can break. Thought the forwards played OK but we needed better decision-making in the backs.

  3. Insuffient nous when kicking from hand & our line out deteriorated as the game went towards the last quarter.
    Fagerson at 8 was everywhere & would have earned MoM in many other match.

  4. A game which missed the crowd our 16th man. The French scrum props spent the whole game boring in and were never penalised, they certainly never pushed straight. Thought Kinghorn was maybe not the man for the wing, Maitland looked much more dangerous when he came on and we need to use VDM way better. There was a lot of aimless kicking from Hogg , Price and Weir. Though Weir’s place kicking was excellent. Why no SHC instead of Price for the last 20 minutes.
    For Scotland thought M Fagerson and Zander had good games , Gray and Cummings also Harris had some good moments, but we still miss Jones.
    Can someone explain how, Vakatawa,was MOM???.

  5. Peter wright wrote,
    “Best Scotland pack since the 84/90 Grand Slams”.
    I’m afraid that the scottish scrum was under the sword today…
    It was a bleak game, from my point of view, the worst wa:
    Not a single attack/opportunity to score a try…

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  6. Camille Chat couldn’t believe he wasn’t binned just before half time. He’s taken his hand off the ball to fend the tackler – whether his forearm is outstretched or braced against his chest is surely irrelevant. Not the first time we’ve heard Wayne Barnes ‘freestyling’ with the rulebook over the ref mic. That said, we had enough chances to at least draw and no one to blame but ourselves for that.

    Brilliant defending by Harris & Hogg on 59mins to shut down what looked like a big overlap. Taylor added a bit of spark at 12 when he came on. Real shame the Fiji game is cancelled to get that loss out of our system.

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  7. Eddie the Steady Jones had just proclaimed last week that the team that kicks the most (and accurately) tends to win the game- so the kicking thing would appear to be a bigger idea than Townsend’s. Perhaps some truth in it?

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  8. Fair result I think, without Finn Russell for some cutting edge and Rory Sutherland who seems to indemnify the pack against all comers. Scotland played well, some missed opportunities but can’t forget that France are a quality outfit.

    Shameful the BBC don’t bother opening up a comment section like they do minutes later after the final whistle for other nations.

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  9. The game was won and lost in the tight five or, more particularly, in the front row where France clearly got on top in the first half. Berghan’s selection was one to baffle as his form for Edinburgh has not been particularly noteworthy let alone that for Scotland. As soon as Zander Fagerson came on, Scotland- notwithstanding some fanciful co-commentary from Benjamin Kamer who began lauding France’s “dominance” after around 30 secs of play – achieved parity in the scrum and on the collision front 2nd half. While it is understandable to rest players etc, Berghan is not a young, new kid on the block and we frankly (no pun intended) need our biggest, ugliest pack to take on France – why Nel was not in the squad/team was rather mistifying. At LH, Kebble is a big, solid unit who has carried and shown up well but, for me, Fraser Brown is not our best hooker (McInally IMO) and perhaps Turner needs to be given a burl as he is a big-hitting, abrasive and dymamic type of player. Far from a disaster overall.

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  10. Didn’t get the impression that the boys really wanted that. Bizarre game with too many aimless kicks. Don’t see what Johnson brings to the proceedings

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  11. No real complaints. France are on the rise, an extremely powerful side with an absolutely vinatage backline. Scotland battled hard today and in terms of endeavour and pure grit you cannot fault them to a man, Fagerson for me was outstanding, Cummings and Gray both very good. Scotland had opportunities in the final ten mins to get something out of this but made too many silly errors. My only major complaint is that we kicked away ball far far too often. Hogg when kicking so often is negating his biggest threat, he is a genius ball in hand. If we had tried to run the ball we would have got more rewards possibly 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

  12. No real complaints. France are on the rise, an extremely powerful side with an absolutely vinatage backline. Scotland battled hard today and in terms of endeavour and pure grit you cannot fault them to a man, Fagerson for me was outstanding, Cummings and Gray both very good. Scotland had opportunities in the final ten mins to get something out of this but made too many silly errors. My only major complaint is that we kicked away ball far far too often. Hogg when kicking so often is negating his biggest threat, he is a genius ball in hand. If we had tried to run the ball we would have got more rewards possibly 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

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