Scotland thwart France to hand England Six Nations success
Jamie Clark, Sports Editor | March 13, 2016
Scotland 29-18 France
- Guirado gets first try for visitors but Scots come from behind to lead
- Hogg and Taylor tries revive Tartan team
- Fickou crossing leaves Les Bleus 18-12 down at half-time
- Noves changes kicker and Macheanaud on his mark
- Visser goes over decisively to ensure consecutive wins
- Result means England win second championship since 2003
Scotland finally make French connection
Six Nations victories for Scotland are like London buses bound for Twickenham. You wait over two years just to get one, and another over Auld Alliance foes France hands England just their second championship since 2003.
Tartan team full back Stuart Hogg’s fingerprints were all over a 29-18 Murrayfield victory against Les Bleus, who will end the campaign winless on their travels and hosting the victorious Red Rose across the Channel. This was just a second Scottish victory in this fixture since 1999.
Vern Cotter’s crew were not without some familiar frailties en route to this result, however. The hosts fell behind to Guilhem Guirado, with the France captain becoming the first hooker to score two tries in a single Six Nations campaign.
Too many changes?
Les Bleus boss Guy Noves changed his half back pairing again – a third alteration this term and the 19th different duo employed at scrum and fly half in less than 50 Tests for France.
Chopping and changing among backs whose boots are used to kick penalty points, conversions and even the odd drop goal is clearly having an adverse effect, as Francois Trinh-Duc failed to get his radar right when given the duties.
Customary response from Tartan team
Only the toughest kicks eluded Scotland skipper Greig Laidlaw, however, and his brace of first-half penalties help to bring the hosts from behind into a single-point lead.
While losing Finn Russell early was a blow to Cotter, replacement Peter Horne helped set up Hogg for a try just past half an hour. Duncan Taylor broke clear through the centre moments later to also go over.
Machenaud in the know with kicks
A healthy Scottish lead was cut by Gael Fickou forcing himself over the tryline in first-half overtime, and Noves giving Maxime Machenaud kicking duties proved more fruitful. French arrears read 18-12.
With Laidlaw struggling to get his boot through some of the longer-range kicks, Hogg ably deputised, while Les Bleus scrum half Machenaud slotted a couple of penalties over the posts.
Visser try vital to Scots victory
The Tartan Army had a first home win in Six Nations action for more than three years confirmed by a lovely try that saw key duo Laidlaw and Hogg combine, with the latter flicking on the former’s pass for Tim Visser to ground in the corner.
Although captain Laidlaw missed another conversion, a successful penalty five minutes from time sealed the result, consigning France to another away defeat and ensuring England go to Paris as Six Nations champions.
Red Rose more a bud than in bloom
Eddie Jones has produced instant if uninspiring results in charge of the Red Rose, with only the margin of victory in Italy substantial.
England did dominate in their first-half title decider at home to Wales, but lost their discipline and a man after the interval to make things hard for themselves.
Cotter’s thoughts will now turn to Ireland and the prospect of trying to make it a hat-trick of wins which would see the Scots finish third, as Wales have a home banker against Italy and are likely Six Nations runners-up.