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France show glimpses of their free-flowing best, but have to work for late bonus point

Gregory Aldritt forced his way over for two late tries as France secured a bonus point victory over Scotland after 88 long minutes.

France 27

Scotland 10

FRANCE UNLEASHED FLASHES of their attacking best on Scotland to claim their first win of this year’s Six Nations Championship, but it was forward pressure which delivered a late, late bonus point.

After their back-field deficiencies were so ruthlessly exposed by England in a Twickenham hammering in round two, the presence of Thomas Ramos at fullback was an enormous fillip for Les Bleus as tries from Romain Ntamack, Yoann Huget and Gregory Aldritt’s late brace delivered the win.

23-year-old Ramos was at the heart of France’s best-attacking moves through the first half, with his intent in the tackle and with ball-in-hand set the mood for the hosts.

Antoine Dupont and Ntamack formed a youthful half-back partnership and their instinctive approach seemed to filter throughout the side. 

Yoann Huget scelebrates scoring their second try with teammates Huget celebrates France's second. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

France showed glimpses of the peak of their powers with some thrilling counter-attacking moves smattered through the first-half.  Unfortunately for the hosts, though, they saw two try-scoring moves chalked off. 

First, Damien Penaud’s dive for the line was called back as Dupont, who sparked the counter-attack with a delicious back-hand offload after a turnover in France’s half, nudged the ball forward on the floor before unleashing the final pass. Gael Fickou also had a superb finish ruled out to give a deceptively tight look to the half-time scoreboard as it read 10-3. 

Antoine Dupont Dupont sets a counter in motion with an offload. Source: James Crombie/INPHO

Toulouse man Ramos, excellent throughout, ignited the game to create the try that made the difference in the first 40. The fullback stepped Sean Maitland as he countered on the right flank, Penaud ate up more metres and passed inside for Dupont to cut an angled run at the posts.

The scrum-half was snagged 10 metres short of the line, but Ramos was first to the ruck and his pass left found Ntamack, the first in a long line of white jerseys waiting to complete the 13th-minute score.

Source: Guinness Six Nations/YouTube

On top of untimely errors amid their flowing attacks, France’s indiscipline was the major reason they were unable to pull further clear. Yoann Huget picked up a yellow card as one of eight first-half penalties given away by the hosts.

There was no sense of anxiety about Jacques Brunel’s team after the restart though, the offloads continued to fly and Matthieu Bastareaud – so often used exclusively as a battering ram – chipped exquisitely over the top and reclaimed to make yards and lay the platform for a Huget’s try in the left corner. with the second half just a minute old.

Despite slowing the rate of penalties (2-8 in the second half), France were not able to use that early try as a springboard to cut loose in the second half.

Stuart McInally and Jamie Ritchie made their presence felt at the breakdown as Scotland halted the home side’s momentum, and the third try did not arrive until the 76th minute, a pushover scrum which brought a try for Aldritt.

Scotland grabbed a consolation try in the remaining minutes as Ali Price raced clear and under the posts, but confidence in Gregor Townsend’s side will need inflating before they face Wales in round four.

France refused to let the ball go dead after the 80-minute mark and continually pushed for a fourth try and bonus point. After a fourth TMO review of the match, they got their reward for the persistence with another big shove from Aldritt. 

France will travel to Dublin to meet Ireland in a fortnight, and Joe Schmidt will have taken note of the warning shots fired today.

Scorers

France

Tries: R Ntamack, Y Huget G Aldritt (2)

Conversions: T Ramos (1/2) B Serin (1/2)

Penalties: T Ramos (1/2)

Scotland

Tries: A Price

Conversions: A Hastings (1/1)

Penalties: G Laidlaw (1/2) 

Murray Kinsella, Andy Dunne and Gavan Casey look ahead to Ireland’s Six Nations meeting with Italy and discuss the week’s biggest stories in the latest episode of The42 Rugby Weekly.


Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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Sean Farrell

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