France provided a stellar response following back-to-back Six Nations losses by beating Scotland 27-10 at the Stade de France.
Coach Jacques Brunel rung the changes after his side’s 44-8 drubbing at the hands of England last time out and was rewarded with a fine display that secured a bonus point on Saturday.
With the likes of Morgan Parra and Camille Lopez not even in the squad after reportedly criticising the coaching staff following that Twickenham reverse, France showed a renewed purpose.
The hosts had two tries ruled out in an excellent first-half display, both for knock-ons in the build-up, and the second of those was a stunning effort that saw Gael Fickou gather Romain Ntamack’s pinpoint kick before touching down.
Between those disappointments, young fly-half Ntamack did get Les Bleus up and running against an injury-hit Scotland outfit, who had Josh Strauss available after he was granted special dispensation to play despite losing his passport.
— FF Rugby (@FFRugby) February 23, 2019
With Brunel’s men firmly on the front foot, another attack forced Sam Johnson into conceding a penalty under the posts and Thomas Ramos added the three points.
Scotland finally got a foothold in the contest when, having already seen one attempt strike a post, Greig Laidlaw nailed a penalty to overtake Gavin Hastings as Scotland’s second-highest points-scorer behind Chris Paterson.
Yet after surrendering half-time leads in five of their last seven games, France appeared determined to avoid any further such setbacks as they retained their advantage in professional fashion.
The hosts pulled further clear following a move that saw Mathieu Bastareaud gather his own chip-and-chase, Yoann Huget – who had earlier been sent to the sin-bin – providing a fine finish.
Gregory Alldritt then powered over twice late on to ensure France earned a bonus point, either side of Ali Price’s reply.
FRANCE’S TMO WOE
France were twiced denied superb first-half tries after reviews from the television match official, whose calls – while frustrating to the home fans – were correct and applauded by World Rugby CEO Brett Gosper on Twitter. Further TMO decisions went against France after the break, but it mattered little.
— Brett Gosper (@brettgosper) February 23, 2019
PARIS TRIPS NO FUN FOR SCOTS
Scotland’s fortunes have improved markedly in recent years, but their record in France remains a poor one. Not since 1999 have the Scots prevailed in the French capital, and this loss ends any realistic hopes of Gregor Townsend’s men winning the title.
NTAMACK FOLLOWS IN FATHER’S FOOTSTEPS
Opta data shows Ntamack scored a try 7,259 days after his father, Emile, scored the second of two career tries against Scotland for France, on April 10, 1999.
France face the prospect of a trip to reigning Six Nations champions Ireland on March 10, the day after Scotland host Wales at Murrayfield.
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