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The BBC's Iain Carter
"They conceded the ball too frequently"
 real 28k

The Scotland scrum half Andy Nicol
"It was certainly a very disappointing performance by us"
 real 28k

Saturday, 4 March, 2000, 15:41 GMT
Scottish errors punished by French

Dalmaso escapes Weir's attentions

Scotland 16-28 France

Two Olivier Magne tries created by Emile Ntamark with the help of Scottish errors consigned the defending champions to their third straight Six Nations defeat.

Six Nations Championship
The first score of the crucial second half double came with the scores level and only 12 minutes to play.

The second came five minutes later and followed a Chris Paterson penalty which had pulled the hosts within two points of the French.

Thomas Casteignede scored an early try for the visitors but the Scots came back well with Andy Nicol's try two minutes after half time briefly giving them the lead.

After Kenny Logan's kicking had failed Scotland during the first half, 21-year-old Paterson took the responsibility on his third appearance for the senior team.

Nicol's try gave Scotland hope
He was more successful than Logan but Scottish mistakes and the more reliable boot of inexperienced French fly-half Gerald Merceron were crucial factors.

Logan's first missed kick was a penalty from the halfway line which went the distance but did not have the accuracy.

It was France who opened the scoring after 11 minutes when Scotland were caught out by a deep counter-attack.

The visitors were penalised for offside with the French just five yards from the line.

Skipper Fabien Pelous took the scrum and when play was eventually switched to the French left, Castaignede was in acres of space.

He took the scoring pass from Christophe Dominici and comfortably ran around under the posts.

Scrum-half Laussacq played a crucial role for France

It marked a successful start to the match for stand-in full-back Casteignede while Merceron, the man replacing the try-scorer at fly-half, kicked the conversion.

For Scotland Nicol and Budge Pountney both had tries disallowed in the first half while Logan missed one of his remaining two penalties.

Merceron slotted over a 20th minute kick for a 10-3 lead but the French lost their discipline with Ntamark and Jean Daude both sin-binned just before half-time.

Paterson took the responsibility from the wayward Logan before half-time and the youngster kicked one penalty but missed another to make it 10-6 at the break.

At the restart France still had a two-man disadvantage and Scotland wasted no time in exploiting it two minutes into the half.

Nicol crashed over after John Leslie had won a penalty which the Scots chose to run.

Paterson converted to give Scotland a three-point advantage but they were unable to hold their lead even until France regained the full complement of players.

Nicol was offside and Merceron made no mistake with the penalty to draw level at 13-13.

Chabal leaps to take a ball
It was 20 minutes before the next points were scored in what became a cagey encounter.

Scotland made the crucial error, going to sleep at a scrum and allowing Christophe Laussucq to kick down the right for Ntamark, who unselfishly passed inside for Magne.

Merceron produced a rare miss and Paterson's next penalty from almost 40 yards produced a tight 18-16 scoreline.

But hopes of a comeback were destroyed imediately as Gregor Townsend kicked straight down the throat of Ntamark, who found Magne on the outside this time.

A conversion and a final penalty gave Merceron a 13-point return and left last year's top side with just two more opportunities to win a championship match this season.

Teams:

Scotland: Paterson, Metcalfe, McLaren, J. Leslie, Logan, Townsend, Nicol, Smith, Brotherstone, Stewart, Weir, S. Murray, M. Leslie, Pountney, Reid. Replacements: Mayer, Hodge, Beveridge, Hilton, Grimes, Mather, Scott.

France: T. Castaignede, N'Tamack, Venditti, Lombard, Dominici, Merceron, Laussucq, Califano, Dal Maso, Tournaire, Daude, Brouzet, Chabal, Magne, Pelous. Replacements: Ibanez, De Villiers, T. Lievremont, Costes, Hueber, Desbrosse, Elissalde.

Referee: Steve Lander (RFU)

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