PHYSICAL France out-muscled a spirited Scotland in the third round of the Six Nations. Despite determined defence, the visitors couldn’t live with the forward power of the hosts. The home side scored seven tries to Scotland’s two but they didn’t get it all their own way, with Scotland battling hard to the end.
Scotland’s scrum was under pressure from the off, and they found themselves trapped in their own half and having to contain France’s lively backs. They couldn’t keep a hold of Gabrielle Vernier, who opened the scoring – the first of a hat-trick for the centre.
As well as dominance in the forwards, France showed great handling skills, and Scotland’s tacklers had their work cut out for them, but full-back Chloe Rollie and hooker Lana Skeldon did well in defence.
France’s next score was all too easy as number eight Romane Ménager broke from the back of a strong scrum and popped the ball to scrum-half Pauline Bourdon, who bounced over. She couldn’t convert her own score.
The return of number eight Jade Konkel to the starting line-up was a definite boost for Scotland and she led the way with some thundering runs, second rows Emma Wassell and Nicola Howat carrying well too.
Scotland were extremely patient as they searched for their first score, centres Hannah Smith and Lisa Thomson steadying the ship before winger Rhona Lloyd found her way over in the corner. Skeldon couldn’t convert.
France fought their way back into Scotland’s half and finding no way through the dark blue shirts, stand-off Emma Coudert chipped over for Vernier to grab and score, with Bourdon converting in front of the posts.
Flying full-back Doriane Constanty added another converted try for France before half-time.
Scotland started the second half strongly, holding firm at the scrum, and flankers Sarah Bonar and Rachel McLachlan put in big tackles, but Vernier crossed the line once again for France, with Bourdon converting.
The visitors didn’t let their heads drop, even when replacement French full-back Caroline Boujard raced away for an unconverted score. Captain Thomson was looking for opportunities to release her fellow backs, but her chip for Lloyd to chase just bobbled into touch.
France strayed offside and Scotland took their chance from the penalty line-out, Wassell eventually burrowing over for an unconverted try.
Further forays to the French line eluded Scotland, and the home team had the final say, with winger Léa Murie collecting a cross-field kick for her team’s seventh try of the night.
France: D Constanty; L Murie, M Ménager, G Vernier, I Jason; E Coudert, P Bourdon; D Maylis Traore, C Thomas, C Joyeux; S N’Diaye, A Forlani; G Hermet ©, C Diallo, R Ménager. Subs used: L Touye, L Arricastre, S Argagnon, L Corson, C Ferer, Y Rivoalen, C Boujard.
Scotland: C Rollie; R Lloyd, H Smith, L Thomson ©, A Sergeant; H Nelson, S Law; L Cockburn, L Skeldon, M Kennedy; E Wassell, N Howat; S Bonar, R McLachlan, J Konkel. Subs used: J Rettie, K Dougan, D McCormack, J Maxwell, L Martin, A Evans.
Referee: Sara Cox.
France: Tries: Vernier (3), Bourdon, Constanty, Boujard, L Murie. Cons: Bourdon (3).
Scotland: Tries: Lloyd, Wassell.
Scoring sequence (France first): 5-0; 10-0; 10-5; 15-5; 17-5; 22-5; 24-5 (h-t) 29-5; 31-5, 36-5; 36-10; 41-10.