France get back to winning ways
February 14, 2009
France's Fulgence Ouedraogo dives over to score a try at the Stade de France
© Getty Images
France opened their account in this year's Six Nations with a 22-13 victory over Scotland at the Stade de France.
The hosts bounced back from their defeat to Ireland last weekend thanks to a controversial try from flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo and 17 points from the boot of fly-half Lionel Beauxis. Two penalties from Phil Godman had kept Scotland in touch and a second half try from Thom Evans, converted by Chris Paterson, offered hopes of a late turnaround but in the end they were left to rue countless unforced errors and the decision to award Ouedraogo's try despite what looked like a forward pass.
France coach Marc Lievremont made five changes in the wake of his side's opening loss with one of those enforced following the suspension of centre Florian Fritz. As a result Benoit Baby was promoted into the backline where he was joined by winger Cedric Heymans. Up front props Nicolas Mas and Fabien Barcella and lock Romain Millo-Chluski were drafted into bolster a pack that was found wanting in Dublin last time out.
Scotland coach Frank Hadden also opted for five changes as he looked to inject some life into a side that lacked any spark in their defeat to Wales last weekend. The most notable of changes saw brothers Thom and Max Evans line up for their country together for the first time in a new-look back division that also saw a recall for winger Simon Danielli. Flanker Alasdair Strokosch and prop Alasdair Dickinson were also called up to add another dimension to the forward unit still missing the injured Euan Murray and Nathan Hines.
The Scots made a lively start and showed plenty of ambition in a refreshing change from the lacklustre showing a week ago. They showed a willingness to throw the ball around from the first whistle and almost snatched a try on six minutes when France's Sebastien Tillous-Borde fumbled the ball over his own line, but the scrum-half beat Thom Evans to touch it down.
Scotland failed to make their early domination count on the scoreboard and instead it was Beauxis who was handed the first opportunity to open the scores after the Scots were penalised at the scrum - but he failed to hit the target.
France slowly found their feet and worked their way back into the game and the Scots suffered an injury blow midway through the half when a shoulder injury brought an end to Jim Hamilton's match with Kelly Brown stepping into the fray.
Brown was involved immediately only to offer Beauxis another chance at the posts and this time he slotted the kick. Scotland levelled the match with Godman nailing an excellent kick soon after but a sloppy penalty from Dickinson allowed Beauxis the chance to cancel his effort out. However his effort was wide of the mark, sparking jeers from the home crowd.
Yet another careless penalty, this time a high tackle from John Barclay offered Beauxis the chance to redeem himself and put some daylight between the sides and this time he slotted the easier kick. The home side held onto their narrow 6-3 lead as the teams headed for the tunnel.
France took hold of the game at the start of the second period thanks to a controversial try from Ouedraogo. A slick handling move up the short side caught Scotland napping and some good work from skipper Lionel Nallet and wing Maxime Medard created an opening for Ouedraogo although the scoring pass looked suspiciously forward.
Referee George Clancy, who was knocked over in the build-up to the score, confirmed the try, Ouedraogo's first for his country, after consulting with his assistant. Beauxis cemented his side's lead with the conversion but the Scots rallied with another well-taken penalty from Godman.
The Scots stuck gainly to their expansive game plan but another infringement offered Beauxis an opportunity to give his side some breathing space and he duly took his chance. Again the visitors dug deep with Barclay and Blair conjuring an opening but the move came to nothing with support slow to arrive.
The game looked to be slipping away from Scotland when Beauxis kicked his fourth penalty but Thom Evans's first try for Scotland offered renewed hope. The light-footed wing linked up well with Godman to cap a fine display with a deserved score under the posts. Replacement Chris Paterson added the extras to bring the Scots within six points of their hosts.
But errors continued to blight Scotland's performance and another saw Beauxis kick his fifth penalty and all but extinguish their hopes. France closed the game out on the front foot to notch their first win in this year's Championship.
France: Poitrenaud, Medard, Baby, Jauzion, Heymans, Beauxis, Tillous-Borde, Barcella, Szarzewski, Mas, Millo-Chulski, Nallet, Dusautoir, Ouedraogo, Harinordoquy.
Replacements: Mermoz for Baby (59), Parra for Tillous-Borde (67), Kayser for Szarzewski (55), Boyoud for Mas (41), Chabal for Millo-Chulski (59), Picamoles for Harinordoquy (70). Not Used: Malzieu.
Scotland: Southwell, Danielli, M. Evans, Morrison, T. Evans, Godman, Blair, Jacobsen, Ford, Dickinson, White, J. Hamilton, Strokosch, Taylor, Barclay.
Replacements: Paterson for Danielli (66), De Luca for Morrison (73), Cusiter for Blair (73), Hall for Ford (66), Low for Dickinson (46), Brown for J. Hamilton (18). Not Used: Gray.
Man of the Match: Thierry Dusautoir (France)
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Wayne Barnes (England), Tim Hayes (Wales)