Saturday, March 17, 2007

France Win At The Death

Six Nations Game 14 - France vs Scotland (46-19)

Scotland made a bright start, and Chris Paterson had an early opportunity at goal, but it just went wide. After six minutes of dominance, winger Nicky Walker collected a high kick in the corner and crashed over for the first try. This time, Paterson's boot was good, and France were trailing 0-7, and making their target 31 points to win the championship.

France gained possession from the restart, and made headway towards the Scots' line, but they knocked it on. The French lineout was solid and the forwards managed to maul there way up the pitch. Lionel Bauxis (in the squad instead of the injured David Skrela) had a punt at goal for three points, but pushed it wide.

France had possession for a while, but made nothing of it, eventually knocking on while the Scottish defence remained firm. Just after 20 minutes, Bauxis had another attempt at goal and this time it went over sweetly, to make it 3-7.

There was a bit of a lull until the half hour, when the French backs made an incisive break, but the Scottish defence was excellent. Until they gave away a penatly, and the French forwards moved in, Imanol Harinordiquy [right] just managing to ground the ball under a heap of bodies.

Another five minutes passed, then Pierre Mignoni made a fantastic break and chipped ahead, collecting himself and then passing to Yannick Jauzion [left] to go over directly under the posts, despite the best efforts of Sean Lamont to stop the grounding. The boot added the points, to take the score to 17-7.

Shortly after the restart, Raphael Ibañez stole a ball off the back of a Scots lineout, and again the French pushed the Scottish defence to the line. They came away with a penalty for their troubles, making it 20-7.

Sean Lamont [left] was back into the fray with great break, passing to Paterson. The French gave a penalty, and Lamont took a blistering quick tap and go, to run over the line, and keep the Scots in the game, especially once Paterson converted. And a great way to go in at half time, 20-14.

Scotland made a good start to the second half, Paterson would have got another try if the pass from his team mate wasn't just forward. Then it was Les Bleus turn to get some possession. They went through more than nine phases, but the French kick ahead was intercepted by a Scottish hand.

At fifty-odd minutes, France were pushing the Scots defence hard, and had to swing it both ways several times before David Marty managed to dive over in the corner. The extras made it 27-14.

France pressed the Scots' defence again, and eventually Cédric Heymans went over in th corner. Bauxis missed the conversion, which meant it was 32-14, an 18 point lead, gradually whittling down their target to beat Ireland, with about 20 minutes to go.

Incredibly, Sean Lamont was then sin-binned for a shoulder charge into touch on David Marty, when it was acutally his younger brother Rory [right] who was the perpetrator! Immediately, the French forwards mauled themselves over from a 5m linouet. Olivier Millout was the man, and Bauxis added the extras to take them clear by 25 points. Irish hearts must have been breaking in Rome, watching the coverage nervously.

With eight minutes on the clock, Scotland were awarded a penalty deep into French territory. Irish fans would be yelling for them to take the three points, but Paterson booted it into the corner, the forwards won their lineout and the Scots did their best to breach the French defence. Inch by inch, they were turned over 2m short.

Soon after, Scotland had a lineout on the French 22, and the dark blues just about recovered the ball. Ali Hogg managed to get within 5m, then France gave away a penatly. Scotland took it quickly, spun it wide both sides, and Euan Murray [left], a tighthead on the wing, went over for the try which robbed France of the Championship. Paterson didn't make the conversion, which left just under three minutes for the French to score a try and wrestle the title back form Irish clutches.

France got a late lineout, and pounded the Scottish line. They won a scrum on 5m just as time was up, white shirts pushing again. The forwards mauled for their lives. They were over, and it was down to the TMO to decide if it was grounded. Hearts in mouths all over France and Ireland. They'd done it at the last moment! What a fantastic ending. Elvis Vermeulen was judged to have been the man with the ball in his hands. Bauxis added the three points, and France were RBS Six Nations 2007 Champions.

Or, read my ten word review.

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