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Saturday, 23 March, 2002, 17:51 GMT
France too strong for Scots
France centre Tony Marsh powers over for the second of his two tries against Scotland
France centre Tony Marsh scored twice to sink the Scots
Scotland 10-22 France

France edged closer to their first Grand Slam since 1998 with an impressive 22-10 win over Scotland at Murrayfield.

The French lacked the sharpness and skill which sealed their surprise win over England in the previous round of the Six Nations Championship.

But some impressive defence, a series of intelligent attacks and tries either side of the break from Tony Marsh were enough to stop a Scottish side continually playing catch-up.

French captain and man-of-the-match Fabien Galthie once again superbly marshalled his team.

But it was the Scots, thanks to the boot of Brendan Laney, who took the lead after a penalty in the seventh minute.

  Scoring details:
Scotland 10
Try: Redpath
Con: Laney
Pen: Laney
France 22
Tries: Marsh (2), Galthie
Cons: Merceron (2)
Pen: Merceron

And the home side looked on course for the first try of the game five minutes later only for James McLaren to spill the ball following a crunching tackle by Marsh.

Despite a bright start by Scotland, it was France who crossed the line first, courtesy of Marsh.

Gerald Merceron popped a pass to Damien Traille and he burst through Gregor Townsend's tackle attempt before putting his fellow centre in for the score.

Merceron duly converted to make amends for an earlier missed spot kick by Traille.

The Scots refused to buckle, though, and came close to scoring once more.

But fiery breaks from both Scott Murray and then Budge Pountney were stifled by the impressive French defence.

Merceron managed a further penalty kick before the break.

Tony Marsh slides in for the first try of the game
Marsh scored a try either side of the break

Marsh sealed his second try of the afternoon just 90 seconds after the restart, slicing his way to the line as the ball was passed through a combination of forwards and backs.

Five minutes later, the forwards turned providers again as Fabien Galthie picked up the ball at the back of a ruck to outsprint Brendan Laney for a try.

Breaks by McLaren and then Laney gave Scotland the boost they needed to get back into the game.

Both men were tackled short of the line, but Bryan Redpath made the most of the space provided by Laney's break to pounce over the line. Laney converted to cut the deficit to 12.

But Scotland failed to add any further points as a series of promising attacks were ruined by mistakes in the final phase of play.

France need to beat Ireland in a fortnight's time to win the Grand Slam.

Scotland: Brendan Laney, Chris Paterson, James McLaren, John Leslie, Glenn Metcalfe, Gregor Townsend, Bryan Redpath, Tom Smith, Gordon Bulloch, Mattie Stewart, Scott Murray, Jason White, Martin Leslie, Budge Pountney, Simon Taylor.
Replacements used: Stuart Grimes, George Graham, Robbie Russell, Kenny Logan
Replacements not used: Graeme Beveridge, Duncan Hodge

France: Nicolas Brusque, Aurelien Rougerie, Tony Marsh, Damien Traille, David Bory, Gerald Merceron, Fabien Galthie (captain), Imanol Harinordoquy, Olivier Magne, Serge Betsen, Olivier Brouzet, Fabien Pelous, Jean-Baptiste Poux, Raphael Ibanez, Jean-Jacques Crenca.
Replacements used: Jimmy Marlu, Thibault Privat, Sylvain Marconnet, Remy Martin
Replacements not used: Olivier Azam, Pierre Mignoni, Francois Gelez

Referee: Alain Rolland (Ire)

Att: 67,000

BBC Sport's Nick Mullins
"This was Scotland's best performance of the season"
Scotland captain Bryan Redpath
"We made a few silly mistakes"
France captain Fabien Galthie
"Scotland was always going to be tough"


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