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Last Updated: Saturday, 25 October, 2003, 12:22 GMT 13:22 UK
Impressive France hammer Scots
Scotland fly-half Gregor Townsend tackled France flanker Serge Betsen
France 51
Tries: Betsen, Harinordoquy, Michalak, Galthie, Brusque
Cons: Michalak (3), Merceron
Pens: Michalak (4)
Drop goals: Michalak, Brusque
Scotland 9
Pens: Paterson (3)
France 51-9 Scotland

It had been billed as the decisive clash in Pool B but any pretensions Scotland had of upsetting France were soon dispelled in front of a massive crowd at the Telstra Stadium in Sydney.

After 30 minutes it looked as though a close battle was on the cards - the Scots were only 6-3 down and tackling everything that moved.

But France underlined their status among the tournament favourites with a 13-point burst before half-time and then pulled smoothly away from a limited Scotland side in the second half.

Serge Betsen, Imanol Harinordoquy, Frederic Michalak, Fabien Galthie and Nicolas Brusque crossed for French tries, while Scotland could only muster three penalties from the boot of Chris Paterson in reply.

France now look certain to top their group and are likely to play the winner of Sunday's match between Ireland and Argentina in the quarter-finals.

France started tentatively and, after 15 minutes, the two sides were level at 3-3 thanks to a penalty apiece.

It took a refereeing error to nearly gift the French the first try of the match.

Michalak had nudged France back in front with a drop goal before David McHugh failed to blow for what appeared to be a blatant knock on.

To win the World Cup you need the best defence - our defence was very good
French coach Bernard Laporte

Michalak took full advantage with a swerving break and the Scots only escaped when Harinordoquy's hands let him down with the line beckoning.

It was a lucky break for the Scots but a sign that France were finding their rhythm, a point emphasised by their burst of scoring in the run up to half-time.

First Michalak added his second penalty, after Glenn Metcalfe had been lucky to escape the sin bin when he high-tackled Fabien Galthie, and then the French back row combined for a classic score.

Open-side flanker Olivier Magne charged through the Scottish midfield and fed Harinordoquy, who looped the scoring pass to fellow back-rower Betsen.

Michalak added the extras and, although Scotland hit back with a Paterson penalty, Michalak replied in kind on the stroke of half-time to give France a 19-3 lead.

Having lived with France for most of the first half, Scotland suddenly found themselves all but out of the match, unless they could significantly lift their game after the break.

You can't win a game of football with those mistakes
Scotland captain Bryan Redpath
The Scots had to score first but they soon found themselves further behind as Brusque landed a 40-yard drop goal, and after that it was largely one-way traffic.

Harinordoquy touched down after the French pack rumbled over before the French half-backs, Michalak and Galthie, both sliced over for fine individual scores.

The final word went to Brusque, who chipped ahead and regathered to score a fine individual try as France sauntered to victory.

France: N Brusque; A Rougerie, T Marsh, Y Jauzion, C Dominici; F Michalak, F Galthie; J-J Crenca, R Ibanez, S Marconnet, F Pelous, J Thion, S Betsen, O Magne, I Harinordoquy
Replacements: Y Bru, O Milloud, O Brouzet, P Tabacco, G Merceron, D Traille, P Elhorga

Scotland: G Metcalfe; C Paterson, A Craig, A Henderson, K Logan; G Townsend, B Redpath; T Smith, G Bulloch, G Kerr; S Murray, S Grimes; J White, S Taylor, C Mather
Replacements: R Russell, B Douglas, N Hines, R Beattie, M Blair, J McLaren, S Danielli

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