Six Nations Game 3 - Scotland vs France (6-27)
For the first time in years, the Scots started as favourites against France. They have a settled team whilst France have new faces in their team and a new coach - Marc Lievremont - after "Mad" Bernie Laporte's retirement from the job.
Scotland were the first to put points on the board with Dan Parks landing a good long-range drop goal in the 4th minute. France retaliated in the 13th minute when Vincent Clerc's try was deemed good, despite the possibility of a forward pass, prior to, and maybe a double movement to score. Andrew Henderson [left] was then lucky to stay on the park after a headbutt to a French player in the in-goal area. The conversion was good and Scotland were on the back foot at 3-7. They were punished again a few minutes later when Damien Traille punted a massive penalty to go 3-10 up.
Parks had a chance to pull a few back in the 22nd minute, but missed the posts. France took a quick tap and go a minute later, and Julien Malzieu [right] noticed no-one was at home at fullback, his lovely chip and chase and a kind bounce taking him over the touchline and under the posts. Scotland were struggling at 3-17.
The Scottish scrum was working well to begin with, even pushing the French off their own ball. Dan Parks was able to make amends for his previous penalty miss with a great kick at goal on the half hour, to claw 3 points back. Elissalde missed two chance of his own at goal a few minutes later.
There was plenty of errors, breaks and running from both sides in the second half, but it wasn't until the 50th minute that Scotland won a penalty - Dan Park's kick to touch failed to go out and France got the ball again. Damian Traille's [right] next kick for goal was accurate and France pulled further ahead 6-20 in the 55th minute.
Parks was substituted by Chris Paterson for the last 20 minutes, in the hope that he would be able to give Scotland a bit more shape. The Scots also lost Rory Lamont to injury around the same time, which can't have done their cause any good.
The French looked much more convincing that the Scots in the second half. Vincent Clerc [left] scored a second try after a kick ahead which he caught himself. David Skrela's conversion really nailed the game to take the visitors to a 6-27 lead. Clerc fully deserved his Man of the Match award.
Chris Paterson made a great hack ahead in the 69th minute and was caught inches from the line. Second phase was promising, but Chris Cusiter botched it, losing the ball as he tried to touch down. It seemd to typify of Scotland's whole game this time round.
The French looked like they would run the ball from anywhere on the pitch and even without some of their older heads, they look like a formiddable proposition for this year. M. Lievremont must be pleased with the result.