France pip Scotland in the Six Nations

France needed a late penalty at Murrayfield to beat Scotland 17-19 in their Six Nations Championship match on Saturday.

The Scots were on the brink of winning their first Test in eight matches against
France when New Zealand referee Chris Pollock awarded a debatable penalty in
front of the posts as the ball came out from a ruck.

Replacement Jean-Marc Doussain made sure of the kick and there was barely any
time left for Scotland to mount a comeback.

Victory — France’s first away from home since winning at Murrayfield two years
ago — left Philippe Saint-Andre’s side in with a shout of a winner-takes-all
clash with title rivals Ireland in Paris next week.

An entertaining first half ended with Scotland 14-9 in front after Stuart Hogg
and Tommy Seymour scored tries converted by Greig Laidlaw, with recalled scrum-half
Maxime Machenaud kicking three penalties for the visitors.

France wing Yoann Huget’s converted intercept try early in the second half
saw the French go 16-14 in front and threatened to knock the wind out of Scotland’s
sails.

But with fly-half Duncan Weir, whose last minute drop-goal secured a 21-20
win away to Italy, landing a key penalty after throwing the poor pass that led
to Huget’s try, Scotland had a one-point lead heading into the final quarter.

Scotland coach Scott Johnson recalled captain Kelly Brown in one of three changes
to the pack.

Brown replaced Glasgow’s Chris Fusaro, while Geoff Cross and David Denton also
come into the pack in place of Moray Low and Ryan Wilson.

France kicked-off with a side showing seven changes to the one thrashed 26-7
by Wales last time out — a loss that prompted Saint-Andre to label his team
“cry babies”.

The very first scrum of the match saw France force a second-minute penalty
which Machenaud kicked.

Eight minutes later good work by centres Maxime Mermoz and Mathieu Bastareaud
took France to within sight of the try-line and Scotland were fortunate not
to be a man down when they deliberately killed the ball in front of their posts.

Machenaud made no mistake and France were 6-0 in front.

But two minutes later Scotland took the lead.

Laidlaw put up a clever high kick over the try-line which Huget failed to catch
under pressure from Scotland counterpart Sean Lamont.

But full-back Hogg, following up, touched down and Pollock, after consulting
the television match official, awarded the try.

Another Machenaud penalty took France 9-7 in front only for Scotland, on a
Murrayfield pitch still disfigured by a parasitic infection, to regain the lead
with a well-worked try as centre Matt Scott’s delightful inside pass released
wing Seymour to score in the corner.

Shortly before half-time France full-back Brice Dulin revived memories of his
celebrated predecessor Serge Blanco by running the ball out from under his own
posts only for skipper Pascal Pape to cut short an enterprising move with a
knock-on.

There was still time for France to be awarded another penalty but this time
Machenaud missed.

Scotland started the second half on the attack only for Huget to intercept
a ‘telegraphed’ looping pass from Weir, intended for Dunbar, and sprint some
90 metres for a try under the posts.

The Scots, however, rallied and forward pressure forced a scrum penalty on
the hour.

But Laidlaw’s 45-metre kick fell short.

That miss prompted Laidlaw to hand kicking duties to Weir and his 42-metre
penalty put Scotland 17-16 in front.

And with six minutes remaining, the Scottish front row won another scrum penalty
on a pitch that had yet again been turned into a bog.

But Weir’s 44-metre kick lacked both distance and direction.

France then won a penalty of their own which they kicked

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