GARETH DUNCAN reports on France’s 34-21 win over Scotland in Paris on Saturday.
While the first two Six Nations fixtures were criticised for a poor standard of rugby, this match proved that the tournament can produce entertaining and top quality Tests. The match was played at good pace, despite the pitch being torn apart beneath the players’ feet. There was also a competitive contest at the breakdown and impressive all-round play from both teams.
France and Scotland played to their strengths well, the former dangerous with ball in hand and on the counter attack while they ruled the breakdown and scrum. The visitors built momentum through their forwards and their cover defence came to the rescue on several occasions.
However, France’s attacking flair proved too much for brave Scotland as tries from wing Maxime Medard, No 8 Imanol Harinordoquy and fullback Damien Traille, and a penalty try sealed a good win.
France opened the scoring after a great counter attack. After flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc and inside centre Maxime Mermoz stole possession in centre field, outside centre Aurelien Rougerie broke down the touchline and his chip ahead was finished off by Medard. Scrumhalf Morgan Parra added the extras and Trinh-Duc’s drop goal minutes later made it 10-0.
Scotland hit back through skipper Alastrair Kellock, the lock crossing the chalk after his forwards drove play up in several waves. But the visitors suffered a massive blow before half time as their scrum crumbled four times in their red zone before referee Wayne Barnes awarded France a penalty try. The hosts led 17-7 at the break.
France continued to play expansively in the second stanza, which saw Harinordoquy and Traille cross the chalk from attacks sparked from the halfway line. Eighthman Kelly Brown and replacement wing Sean Lamont scored tries for Scotland to add respectability to the score.