France wins at last with 27-10 victory over Scotland in 6N
SAINT-DENIS, France (AP) — After some ugly defeats, France showed conviction this time by scoring four tries in a 27-10 win against Scotland in the Six Nations on Saturday.
Flyhalf Romain Ntamack's first-half try and winger Yoann Huget's try just after the restart put France in a commanding position at 15-3 up.
There was no collapse like against Wales and Les Tricolores added two late tries from impressive replacement No. 8 Gregory Alldritt, either side of a well-worked converted try from Scotland's replacement scrumhalf Ali Price.
Scotland's wait for a first victory on French soil since 1999 goes on. The Scots struggled to make much of an impression going forward without star fullback Stuart Hogg and flyhalf strategist Finn Russell, among four players injured in the loss to Ireland .
Following a crushing 44-8 loss away to England along with home defeats to Wales and Fiji, victory was a relief for France coach Jacques Brunel. It was only his fourth in 14 games in charge.
"We had to bounce back after a stinging defeat to England, show our unity and strength. We got some of that back," Brunel said. "We're well aware that we have a way to go, Scotland was a weakened side and we'll be up against tougher sides. The next few weeks are going to show us what the real value of our team is."
Brunel's selection gambles at the back paid off, with Ntamack excelling at No. 10 after being switched from center. He made an impact throughout and his try was his first for France but a 26th for the family — father Emile Ntamack scored 25 as one of France's best wingers.
France had two first-half tries ruled out following a video review — one of them set up by Ntamack — with TMO showing knock-ons leading up to both. Still, France did enough damage to pick up an attacking bonus point.
Alldritt might have ended up with a hat trick of tries. He had one chalked off five minutes into injury time, also following a TMO decision. Three minutes later, he bulldozed off the back of the scrum and over the line.
The Stade de France crowd cheered right winger Damian Penaud's apparent try after seven minutes. Blair Kinghorn, moved from the wing to fullback in place of Hogg, botched flyhalf Antoine Dupont's kick to give France the ball. After center Mathieu Bastareaud was held up near the line, Penaud bumped scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw out the way in the right corner. But the effort was ruled out for an earlier knock on by Dupont.
France's first try came a few minutes later following a sweeping counterattack from deep.
Thomas Ramos raced down the right and fed Penaud, who found Dupont in support. Center Nick Grigg made a brilliant cover tackle on Dupont, but from the ensuing ruck Ntamack got a quick pass into space. Ramos converted and then slotted over his penalty to make it 10-0 after 18 minutes.
Scotland had only Laidlaw's penalty to show for a spell of pressure.
"We started the match poorly," coach Gregor Townsend said. "Given the results they had, we knew the first 20 minutes could give them confidence or put them under more pressure."
After Huget was sinbinned, France scored with 14 men with Ntamack expertly kicking over the defense for center Gael Fickou to score. But another TMO decision ruled out the try because Wenceslas Lauret knocked on leading up to it.
France deserved more than a 10-3 lead at the break and scored just after the restart when Huget scored in the left corner from Dupont's pass, following good work by No. 8 Louis Picamoles.
"We feel as though we're letting ourselves down in some senses. We were in the game at halftime," Laidlaw said. "Giving them five points straight after the break certainly didn't help the cause."
Brunel felt confident enough to bring on several new faces for the last 10 minutes.
Aldritt peeled off the back and went over in the right corner for the first of two similar tries.
"He's very versatile, each time he's come on for us he's done well," Brunel said.
Next up for France is a trip to Ireland, while Scotland hosts Wales.
"We're under pressure now to see if we can play the same away from home," France captain Guilhem Guirado said. "Ireland are one of the top five teams in the world."