February 11, 2018 / 5:07 PM / 3 months ago

Rugby - France drought continues with Scotland defeat

EDINBURGH (Reuters) - France’s dismal run continued when they failed to win for the eighth consecutive time in a 32-26 defeat against Scotland in the Six Nations at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland vs France - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 11, 2018 Scotland’s Ali Price in action with France’s Remi Lamerat REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

Scotland prevailed thanks to tries by Sean Maitland and Huw Jones with man of the match Greig Laidlaw adding two conversions and six penalties in a perfect kicking performance as France were penalised 13 times.

Les Bleus, who have not won an international test in 329 days, scored two tries through the impressive Teddy Thomas, Maxime Machenaud adding two conversions and two penalties with replacement scrumhalf Baptiste Serin also scoring a couple of penalties.

France, who lost influential flyhalf Matthieu Jalibert in last weekend’s 15-13 defeat by Ireland, were again hit by injuries as Machenaud had to make way for Serin at halftime after being hit in the shoulder.

“If I could have stayed warm I would have been able to continue but it was halftime so I preferred to leave my place to someone fresh,” said Machenaud.

Scotland, who were humbled 34-7 by Wales last weekend, trailed for 70 minutes but eventually had too much in store.

“The resilience it takes to win a test match is huge. The fact we were behind for most of the game shows the heart of the squad,” said Scotland coach Gregor Townsend.

“We were more direct and we got our rewards. We were up against a very good defence and it takes a huge effort (to break it).”

Rugby Union - Six Nations Championship - Scotland vs France - BT Murrayfield, Edinburgh, Britain - February 11, 2018 Scotland’s David Denton in action REUTERS/Russell Cheyne

France took a dream start as Thomas slalomed through the Scottish defence and touched down after a dazzling 45-metre run. Machenaud converted.

The scrumhalf added a penalty in the 10th minute to increase the lead as the visitors proved more aggressive.

Thomas also defended well as he ran across the field to kick the ball out after Stuart Hogg had threatened with a clever through ball.

However, the Scotland backs showed their talent with Maitland at the completing end of a well-worked try on the left side. Laidlaw converted to reduce the arrears to three points.

But Thomas chipped the ball into space on his right wing and collected it after Laidlaw was deceived by the vicious rebound before touching down between the posts, setting up Machenaud for a routine conversion.

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Scotland responded when Jones burst through the defence after the hosts had unsettled France with some high-tempo moves.

Although Scotland dominated, Machenaud opened a six-point advantage with a last-second penalty at halftime.

Replacement Serin traded a couple of penalties with Laidlaw early in the second half.

Laidlaw added another at the hour as Scotland breathed down France’s neck.

The visitors lacked discipline under high pressure and Laidlaw slotted two other penalties to put Scotland ahead for the first time of the game.

He added his sixth penalty with three minutes left, forcing France to go for a converted try in order to avoid a seventh defeat in eight games.

That try never came as Scotland had the upper hand in a ruck in their 22 metres.

They next host England on Feb. 24 as France will take on Italy the previous day in a game that might give the losers the dreaded wooden spoon.

Writing by Julien Pretot; Editing by Christian Radnedge

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