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Scotland 9-18 France

Scotland (6) 9
Pens: Paterson 3
France (15) 18
Tries: Bastareaud 2 Con: Parra Pens: Parra 2

Scotland 9-18 France

Highlights - Scotland 9-18 France

By Keir Murray

Scotland succumbed to another opening-day RBS Six Nations defeat against a superior French side at Murrayfield.

Chris Paterson, earning his 99th cap, put Scotland ahead with an early penalty, but the French scored through Mathieu Bastareaud's try.

Morgan Parra missed the conversion but landed a penalty before Bastareaud powered home for his second try.

The remainder of Scotland's points came from Paterson's boot, while scrum-half Parra kept the French out of sight.

There was a minute's silence before kick-off to remember legendary broadcaster Bill McLaren, who died recently aged 86.

Scotland's only win against France this century came in a 20-16 victory at Murrayfield in 2006 but a repeat rarely looked on the cards.

The intensity of the encounter was evident in two early ferocious tackles by French winger Aurelien Rougerie, who hammered into Kelly Brown as he collected the opening kick, then stopped Johnnie Beattie in his tracks.

The Frenchman was replaced by Toulouse left winger Vincent Clerc after just four minutes.


Scotland's first foray deep into French territory came in the eighth minute, as Max Evans escaped the clutches of the visitors' defence and put Clement Poitrenaud on to his back foot.

Paterson scored his 151st penalty in his 99th appearance for Scotland, to give the home side a 3-0 advantage after 10 minutes.

But Clerc looked a certainty to score the first try of the match moments later, only for Thom Evans to get his hands under the ball over the line to prevent the score.

But France did not long have to wait, the culmination of intense pressure as the visitors' scrum took a firm stranglehold on the match.

After the immense Imanol Harinordoquy was twice denied from scrums, the ball was switched from left to right, Francois Trinh-Duc feeding Bastareaud to cross the line unopposed to give France a 5-3 lead.

By way of respite for Scotland, Parra missed the conversion.

Sean Lamont tries to fend off Benjamin Fall
Sean Lamont was Scotland's most potent attacking threat

Beattie brought the bulk of the 66,500 fans at Murrayfield to their feet with the first of several charges and Sean Lamont also enjoyed a fine break down the left flank.

But Lamont was forced to make another try-saving tackle at the other end after a poor kick from fly-half Phil Godman was charged down and kicked ahead by Francois Trinh-Duc, who narrowly failed to complete the score.

But Parra's penalty extended the French advantage to 8-3 after 27 minutes when Scotland prop Moray Low was pinged again at the scrum.

The hosts were offered encouragement almost immediately, when Lamont smashed through two tackles and offloaded to the impressive Cusiter.

Despite Godman taking the wrong option out on the right wing, France were punished for offside and Paterson kicked his second penalty - his 33rd in a row in the Six Nations - to make it 6-8.

But the French stepped up a gear as the first half moved into its closing stages.

Harinordoquy found 18-stone Bastareaud charging forward at his left shoulder and the 21-year-old evaded a desperate tackle by Kelly Brown to claim his second try of the game.

The conversion was executed superbly by the left-footed Parra from an acute angle.

At 15-6 down, Scotland were forced to make a series of crucial tackles under their own posts to avoid conceding another try as the first half drew to a close.

But scrum-half Parra made the most of more sloppy Scotland play to extend the lead with a penalty five minutes into the second half.

Marc Lievremont's reign in charge of Les Bleus, which began with a 27-6 win at Murrayfield two years ago, has been characterised by his willingness to experiment with his team selection.

Prop Luc Ducalcon became the 71st player Lievremont has used when he was sent on for his Test debut to give tight-head Nicola Mas a well-earned rest with more than half an hour left.

Scottish tries are rare - only two were scored in the three autumn Tests - and they did not look like breaching the French defence for most of the second half.

Paterson did register his third penalty after 53 minutes when France wing Benjamin Fall ran a good 40m towards the try-line, only to be called back by referee Nigel Owens for an earlier infringement.

But Parra missed a further penalty opportunity for the French, who were content to simply maintain territorial control in the final quarter.

There were momentary glimpses of Scotland in attack, with another late Lamont charge giving the home fans something to cheer.

But typically, Harinordoquy produced a seventh turnover for France and Scotland were left to reflect on a fourth consecutive opening-day Six Nations defeat.

Scotland: Paterson, Evans, Evans, Morrison, S Lamont, Godman, Cusiter (Captain); Dickinson, Ford, Low, Nathan Hines, Kellock, Brown, Barclay, Beattie.
Replacements: Southwell for Godman (51), Jacobsen for Low (51), Low for Dickinson (70), S Lawson for Ford (65), Gray for Hines (68).
Not used: A MacDonald, A Grove.

France: Poitrenaud, Fall, Bastareaud, Jauzion, Rougerie, Trinh-Duc, Parra; Domingo, Servat, Mas, Nallet, Pape, Dusautoir (captain), Fulgence Ouedraogo, Harinordoquy.
Replacements: Clerc for Rougerie (4), Ducalcon for Mas (45), Szarzewski for Servat (50), Pierre for Pape (65), Bonnaire for Dusautoir (66), Marty for Bastareaud (71), Michalak for Parra (71).

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

Attendance: 65,687

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see also
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Scotland v France photos
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