Tuesday 17 September 2019

Scotland hit back to take the victory

Scotland 17 France 14

Sean Maitland of Scotland receives the ball in space and charges for the try line during the Summer Test match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Sean Maitland of Scotland receives the ball in space and charges for the try line during the Summer Test match between Scotland and France at Murrayfield Stadium on August 24, 2019 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Bryn Palmer

A week after being obliterated in Nice, Scotland turned the tables on France to end a run of five Tests without a win and bolster their World Cup preparations with a comeback victory at Murrayfield.

Down 14-3 after 27 minutes following two tries from France wing Damian Penaud, converted scores from Sean Maitland and Chris Harris either side of the interval put Gregor Townsend's side into a lead they held onto tenaciously in a scoreless final quarter.

Please log in or register with Independent.ie for free access to this article.

Log In

France's lock Sebastien Vahaamahina (R) hands-off Scotland's lock Scott Cummings (L) Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images
France's lock Sebastien Vahaamahina (R) hands-off Scotland's lock Scott Cummings (L) Photo: ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP/Getty Images

The warm glow of victory was offset, however, by the sight of lock Sam Skinner being carried off with a serious-looking knee injury. The versatile Exeter forward was pencilled in as an auxiliary second row or back row option, but his prospects of making the squad for Japan now appear in serious doubt.

As in Nice a week ago, Scotland conceded a try within two minutes, and all of their own making. Peter Horne, with the French defence up fast, threw a suicidal pass that was picked off by Penaud, who raced home from halfway untouched.

Thomas Ramos converted for an early 7-0 lead, but Greig Laidlaw, returning to the side as captain, got Scotland on the board with a penalty in the fifth minute.

Number eight Blade Thomson, on his Test debut, looked short of a gallop, feeling the pace of a frenetic opening quarter. The jury remains out on the Scarlets forward, who was forced off two minutes into the second half for a head injury assessment.

Stuart Hogg of Scotland with his daughter Olivia at the final whistle. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images
Stuart Hogg of Scotland with his daughter Olivia at the final whistle. Photo: Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

Thomson's first major contribution was a thumping hit on halfway that led to a turnover but Scotland wasted their first opportunity. Maitland was freed down the left flank and stepped inside but when he went to ground, Ryan Wilson was penalised for going off his feet.

That aside, Wilson surely laid claim to one of the likely five back row spots in the World Cup squad with a combative display. Of the other hopefuls on the casting couch, Skinner showed up well until his untimely injury, second-row partner Scott Cummings also grafted hard on his first Test start.

International Rugby Newsletter

Rugby insights and commentary from our renowned journalists like Neil Francis, Will Slattery, Alan Quinlan & Cian Tracey.

The second French try was again soft from a Scottish perspective. Centre Sofiane Guitoune motored through a gap between Wilson and Maitland before feeding Penaud on the right flank for an easy run-in.

Props Willem Nel and Gordon Reid brought a degree of stability at scrum-time, and Scotland got they fillip they needed just before the interval. Blair Kinghorn, on as a 17th-minute replacement for Tommy Seymour, snaffled a long pass intended for Penaud in the French 22. Harris kept it alive, and swift recycling saw Russell put Maitland over in the left corner for his seventh try in his last 10 outings at Murrayfield.

Laidlaw added a majestic touchline conversion to give the half-time score a healthier sheen for the home side.

Scotland were ahead in the 58th minute, Wilson and Hamish Watson taking them to within a metre before Harris barrelled onto Laidlaw's short pass to dive over at the posts.

Stuart Hogg then escaped and claimed his own kick ahead, but a knock-on killed the move. Despite this, sold-out Murrayfield roared the hosts on through to a deserved victory.

Sunday Indo Sport

The Throw-In: 'Jim Gavin has achieved what Mick O'Dwyer and Brian Cody couldn't do'

In association with Bord Gáis Energy

Also in Sport