2018 NatWest Six Nations Championship.

Discussion in 'Sports' started by Swami, Feb 2, 2018.

  1. Swami

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    Yes, it is that time of year again, first up tomorrow Wales v Scotland, France v Ireland, then Italy v England on Sunday.

    Here's hoping for Scotland, Ireland and Italy wins!

    Swami
     
  2. Swami

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    Six Nations: Wales 34-7 Scotland
    By Richard Williams


    Six Nations
    Wales (14) 34
    Tries:
    G Davies, Halfpenny (2), S Evans Cons: Halfpenny (4) Pens: Halfpenny (2)
    Scotland (0) 7
    Tries:
    P Horne Cons: Russell
    Wales made a dream start to the 2018 Six Nations as they crushed Scotland in a bonus-point win at the Principality Stadium.

    The home team rocked the much-fancied Scots with early tries by Gareth Davies and Leigh Halfpenny.

    After the break Halfpenny completed a 24-point haul with two penalties and a second try before Steff Evans dived over for the bonus-point try.


    The visitors only managed a 79th minute try through Peter Horne.

    Gatland claimed his 50th win as Wales coach in a match that marked the 10th anniversary of his first match in charge. It was also Wales' 50th win in the expanded Six Nations tournament.

    [​IMG]
    Wales went into the game without six first-choice players because of injury
    Ruthless Wales
    The Scots had travelled in hope after beating Wales for the first time in 10 years in 2017, but were ruthlessly taken apart in the second half.

    The visitors could not break free from a smothering defence as Wales extended their winning home run against them past 16 years.

    Full-back Halfpenny had not scored a Test try in five years and he also nailed six out of six kicks at goal for a personal best tally in a Test match.

    But he was beaten to the man of the match award by flanker Aaron Shingler, who was part of a superb Welsh back row.

    Having dazzled in the autumn series against Australia and New Zealand, Scotland could not get their running game going while Wales confounded predictions with their attacking intent.

    Their power game in the later stages, however, came as no surprise while Scotland paid a heavy price for errors.

    Making light of injuries
    [​IMG]
    Gareth Davies scores the first Wales try
    So much of the talk before the game was about injuries. But Scotland's scrum was not dominated in spite of missing nine front-row players, while Wales made light of missing eight British and Irish Lions.

    And Wales coach Warren Gatland's decision to start with 10 players from one region paid rich dividends as all their points were contributed by Scarlets.

    In reality, after a lightning-fast start, Finn Russell failed to trouble Wales' midfield of Hadleigh Parkes and Scott Williams and Halfpenny handled the kicks well, sometimes under intense pressure.

    And some of the rugby - particularly in the early stages - left the crowd breathless.

    Flying start
    Scotland could have scored in the first two minutes when Jonny Gray galloped through a gap after Davies' poor touch kick handed them an attacking platform.

    And they still had Wales on the rack when Ali Price's pass was intercepted by the predatory Davies who sprinted 70 metres for the opening try.

    Wales were 12 points ahead in as many minutes when Halfpenny crossed for his first try in 35 Tests, ignoring an unmarked Josh Adams on the right to burst through Huw Jones' tackle on the line.

    [​IMG]
    Jonny Gray, seen here on the run against Wales is the younger brother of Scottish and British and Irish Lion international Richie Gray
    And that followed a let-off for Scotland after Steff Evans dropped a wayward pass five metres from the line after a thrilling move involving Rob Evans, Cory Hill and Alun Wyn Jones.

    Scotland had more possession and territory, with Russell and Hogg counter-attacking dangerously. But a combination of handling errors and turnovers meant they could not manage a score in the first half.

    Halfpenny's two penalties early in the second half killed the game as a contest and when he dived over for his second try, it was a question of how many points Wales would score.

    Evans' acrobatic dive earned Wales first-ever try bonus point in the Six Nations and by the time replacement Horne crossed, Scotland were having to reappraise their Six Nations campaign.

    Man of the match
    [​IMG]
    There were many Wales contenders but Scarlets flanker Aaron Shingler shone in his 14th Test for Wales
    What's next?
    Scotland must regroup before they host France at Murrayfield on Sunday, 11 February, while Wales' journey to face reigning champions England in Twickenham on Saturday, 10 February.

    What they said - 'I was expecting it'
    Wales head coach Warren Gatland: "It was an afternoon I was expecting the way we've trained in the week. There was a quiet confidence in the squad.

    "We expected to win and win reasonably comfortably. The chief executive of the Welsh Rugby Union asked me yesterday how I thought we'd go and I said I thought we'd win by 20.

    "Apart from a soft try at the end it was a great defensive display and it was great to get the bonus point as well and we can improve again for next week."


    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Six Nations 2018: Warren Gatland had feeling Wales would 'batter' Scotland
    Scotland captain John Barclay on BBC One: "I'm speechless - there were a lot of errors. Today we tried to find the tempo we had in the autumn but couldn't find the accuracy and that's the end result.

    "We'll have a look back but there were too many individual errors and too many missed tackles. Our line-out didn't function all that well and when we got the ball we gave it away.

    "It's hard to find positives, I'm sure there will be some. Wales were superb today and we've got a lot of work to do."

    Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, Williams, Parkes, S Evans; Patchell, G Davies; R Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (captain), Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, Watkin.

    Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Harris, H Jones, McGuigan; Russell, Price; Reid, McInally, Welsh, Toolis, Gray, Barclay (captain), Watson, du Preez.

    Replacements: Lawson, Bhatti, McCallum, Gilchrist, Wilson, Laidlaw, Horne, Maitland.

    Match officials
    Referee: Pascal Gauzere (France)

    Touch judges: Romain Poite (France) & Matthew Carley (England)

    TMO: David Grashoff (England)

    Swami
     
  3. Swami

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    Six Nations: France 13-15 Ireland
    By Cian Murtagh


    Six Nations
    France (3) 13
    Try:
    Thomas Con: Belleau Pens: Machenaud 2
    Ireland (9) 15
    Pens:
    Sexton 4 Drop: Sexton
    Ireland snatched a remarkable win over France thanks to a brilliant long-range drop-goal by fly-half Johnny Sexton.

    After the Irish had led for most of the game in Paris, winger Teddy Thomas scored a fine 71st-minute try to give France the lead for the first time.

    However, Sexton pulled off his dramatic drop in the 83rd minute to give Joe Schmidt's side a valuable opening win.


    The incredible last-gasp score denied France a winning start under their new coach Jacques Brunel.

    Sexton landed four penalties before missing his fifth, which would have given the visitors 15-6 lead.

    That failed attempt looked like proving costly when Racing 92 star Thomas scythed through the Irish defence for what seemed like being the decisive score.

    [​IMG]
    Battle of the 10s
    Perhaps it is unfair to compare an uncapped teenager with the British and Irish Lions starting fly-half, but the difference between the sides was crystallised by the fortunes of the two men wearing the number 10 shirts.

    On his Test debut, Matthieu Jalibert lost an early aerial battle with Rob Kearney and minutes later he miscued an attempted chip over the Irish defence to cough up possession.

    The Bordeaux youngster was too frequently guilty of crabbing across the field, which cut off space for his team-mates, before limping off after 30 minutes following an awkward collision with Bundee Aki.

    In contrast, Sexton's control of the Irish attack was flawless.

    The Leinster man consistently probed at the French back three with an array of clever kicks.

    And the playmaker showed nerves of steel to land the match-winning score at the death.

    Teddy's try
    [​IMG]
    Teddy Thomas scored the only try but it wasn't enough for the French as Ireland snatched a late win
    Thomas produced a real moment of magic to put France within seconds of a stunning win.

    With less than 10 minutes left on the clock, the wing struck to put his side into the lead for the first time as Les Bleus appeared to have grabbed an unlikely victory.

    Thomas gathered a clearing kick near the halfway line and sprinted past Kearney on the right wing before swerving in field, leaving Jacob Stockdale, Sexton and Keith Earls in his wake to score under the posts.

    It was the first moment of real genius in the match before Sexton's stunning winner.

    French indiscipline
    When Brunel sits down to review the video of his first game as French national coach, he will see the cost of the indiscipline shown by his players.

    France conceded 10 penalties in total, but all three of Sexton's first-half penalties were relatively straightforward and the result of needless errors.

    Sebastien Vahaamahina was guilty of four silly penalties either side of half-time - two of them were converted by Sexton for points and another cost his side a rare attacking position.

    The home side fought their way back into contention in the third quarter but almost released the pressure valve when team captain Guilhem Guirado didn't roll away, but Sexton missed his kick.

    The home side improved their discipline in the closing stages but were left to rue their early mistakes.


    Media playback is not supported on this device

    Highlights: France 13-15 Ireland
    What's next?
    The young French players will be devastated to have lost in such dramatic fashion, but they have shown that they can be contenders in this year's championship and will have another week of training under Brunel before their visit to Scotland on 11 February.

    Ireland's Grand Slam remains on track - but only just. They will know they must improve their attack if they are to regain the title they last won in 2015. Joe Schmidt may now decide to use the same players again and resist the temptation to experiment against Italy in round two on 10 February.

    What they said: 'Our goals would have crumbled if we'd lost'
    Ireland match-winning hero Johnny Sexton: "It was one of those moments - I'm just happy I got another chance as we have worked so hard over the last few weeks and all our goals would have crumbled today if we had lost.

    "It's great to be in the position we are now after getting an away win. I had a kick to put us two scores clear but I just snatched at it so I was happy to get another chance to secure victory for the boys.

    "The boys' legs were out and I don't think we could have got through another couple of phases.

    "The management drill into us every day that it's never over and we have got some good characters in the team. We just wanted to get off to a good start."

    Teams
    France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Chavancy, Vakatawa; Jalibert, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Gourdon.

    Replacements: Pelissie (Guirado, 73), Priso (Poirot, 55), Gomes Sa (Slimani, 55), Gabrillagues (Iturria, 60), Tauleigne (Lauret, 66), Dupont (Machenaud, 66), Belleau (Jalibert, 29).

    Not used: Fall.

    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; Healy, Best (capt), Furlong; Henderson, James Ryan; O'Mahony, Van der Flier, Stander.

    Replacements: Cronin (Best, 67), J McGrath (Healy, 60), John Ryan (Furlong, 69), Toner (James Ryan, 67), Leavy (Van der Flier, 37), McFadden (Stockdale, 74).

    Not used: L. McGrath, Carbery.

    Match officials
    Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)

    Touch judges: Wayne Barnes (England) & Paul Williams (New Zealand)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

    Swami
     
  4. Swami

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    Six Nations: Italy 15-46 England
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce


    Six Nations
    Italy (10) 15
    Tries:
    Benvenuti, Bellini Con: Allan Pen: Allan
    England (17) 46
    Tries:
    Watson 2, Farrell, Simmonds 2, Ford, Nowell Cons: Farrell 4 Pen: Farrell
    England started and finished in style as they overcame a spirited Italy to begin their Six Nations title defence with a seven-try romp.

    Two early tries from Anthony Watson set Eddie Jones's men on their way, Owen Farrell adding another after Tommaso Benvenuti's inspired try had narrowed the gap.

    Mattia Bellini's score in the corner midway through the second half meant Italy had fought back to within 12 points with 20 minutes to go.


    But a brace from Six Nations debutant Sam Simmonds plus sweetly worked tries from George Ford and Jack Nowell allowed the reigning champions to pull away.

    It means Jones's side have now won 23 of his 24 matches in charge, picking up a bonus point to match the achievements of their next opponents Wales the day before.

    Conor O'Shea will have seen much to convince him his Italy side are improving in his second year, but it is still a 13th consecutive Six Nations defeat for the tournament's perennial strugglers.

    [​IMG]
    Anthony Watson's first-half double set England on their way to victory in Rome
    England accelerate from the blocks
    In the corresponding fixture a year ago England had begun slowly, a flaw that dogged them throughout the championship, but here they began with pace and precision.

    On three minutes Ben Te'o, starting at outside centre, crashed the ball up into the Italian midfield to create the space for Ford and Farrell to work a wrap-around on the Italian 22.

    Ford sent May into space down the right and the left winger put Watson over in the corner.

    The same combination brought dividends again eight minutes later, this time May crashing through one tackle before Watson handed off Tommaso Boni and bounced off Tommaso Benvenuti's no-arms tackle to touch down inside the corner flag once more.

    Had Farrell not missed both conversions the damage to home morale would have been worse.

    Instead Conor O'Shea's men responded impressively - Boni and Mattia Bellini combining at pace down the left wing, the forwards securing quick ball and fly-half Tomasso Allen firing a long pass over May to set Benvenuti free down the right.

    Allen's conversion made it 10-7, only for England to hit back immediately. Danny Care, on early for the injured Ben Youngs, went down the blindside from a ruck 15 metres out and Ford, standing flat to the line, found Farrell on his outside shoulder for the inside-centre's sixth try for his country.

    Italy had missed 10 tackles in the first 35 minutes, but with Allen landing a penalty late in the half were delighted to be only 17-10 down at the break.

    Pacy Simmonds makes his mark
    [​IMG]
    Number eight Sam Simmonds marked his Six Nations debut with a superb display. He was England's leading tackler - but the 23-year-old also made the most metres and clean breaks, beat the most defenders and made the joint-most carries, as well as scoring a joint match-leading two tries
    Another slick backs move appeared to have brought them closer still early in the second half, only for the noisy home contingent in the Stadio Olympico to be silenced when Boni's try was ruled out for a forward pass from Allen.

    Instead it was England who struck at the other end. Sam Simmonds was left alone off a driving maul to scamper unencumbered under the posts, and what might have been a three-point game was instead a 17-point lead.

    Italy could have folded, but Bellini held off Mike Brown from another fine long mis-pass from Allen for a deserved second try.

    This was a different Italy, an invention and cutting edge in the backs to match the traditional muscle up front.

    And there was relief in the visitors' ranks when Ford put the game to bed when he ran on to Farrell's break to cross for England's fifth try.

    Simmonds put the seal on it with a second try to mark his tournament debut, showcasing his acceleration and pace to scythe through a tired blue-shirted rearguard before the Exeter man's no-look pass put his club team-mate Nowell away for one his own at the death.

    Man of the match: Owen Farrell
    [​IMG]
    For all the talk of Ben Te'o's selection - and Sam Simmonds' impact - it was England inside centre Farrell whose breaks and passing were the catalyst for his side's victory
    Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Lovotti, Ghiraldini, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Giammarioli, Parisse.

    Replacements: Hayward for Castello (73), Canna for Allan (73), Gori for Violi (63), Quaglio for Lovotti (41), Bigi for Ghiraldini (54), Pasquali for Ferrari (54), Biagi for Budd (61), Mbanada for Giammarioli (50).

    England: Brown; Watson, Te'o, Farrell, May; Ford, Youngs; M Vunipola, Hartley, Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmonds.

    Replacements: Nowell for Brown (61), Joseph for Te'o (59), Care for Youngs (10), Hepburn for Vunipola (73), George for Hartley (54), Williams for Cole (54), Kruis for Lawes (59), Underhill for Robshaw (67).

    Swami
     
  5. Swami

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    Six Nations: Ireland 56-19 Italy
    By Cian Murtagh

    BBC Sport NI at Aviva Stadium

    Against France, Ireland made 193 carries, 50 more than any other team in round one - but for less than two yards per effort.

    They also passed the ball 60 times more than any other side, which was a reflection of the possession they enjoyed in Paris, but it was clear Schmidt's team deliberately attacked the France defence around the fringes of the ruck.

    [​IMG]
    Centre Henshaw was injured while touching down for his second and Ireland's fifth try
    Against Italy, there was a different side to the Ireland attack, as they attempted to spread the ball wide from the opening minute when Lions centre Henshaw twice got around the corner of the Italy defence.

    The bonus point was secured before half-time but Ireland kept hunting for more as they used the pace and strength of their wingers to hurt Italy out wide in what as a ruthless performance.

    Strength in numbers


    Ireland coach Joe Schmidt hopes winning momentum will continue
    It may have been against the championship's weakest team, but the match illustrated the increasing depth of quality in the Ireland squad.

    Many would consider Sean O'Brien to be Ireland's first choice open-side flanker when fit, but the Leinster man remains sidelined with a hip problem.

    In O'Brien's absence, Josh van der Flier was impressive before limping off during the first half against France and his replacement, Dan Leavy, is now making his own claim for the number seven shirt.

    Indeed, it was the flanker's turnover in the 35th minute that led to the bonus-point try by Earls.

    Along with Murray and fly-half Johnny Sexton, Tadgh Furlong is one of the most important players in the Ireland team - but even the loss of the Lions tight-head prop after just three minutes didn't disrupt the hosts as Andrew Porter, 22, slotted in seamlessly.

    Sexton and Murray, who both played the full match in Paris, were called ashore in the 50th minute but their replacements, Joey Carbery and Kieran Marmion, kept Ireland on the front foot as the hosts ran in a further three tries in the closing half hour.

    O'Shea's Italy still in development
    [​IMG]
    Matteo Minozzi scored Italy's third try and looks like being an important player for them
    This must have been an emotional occasion for former Ireland full-back O'Shea, who was trying to plot the downfall of the team he represented on 35 occasions.

    Italy remain a work in progress under him and again demonstrated an array of exciting attackers once the game opened up in the second half.

    However, they were unable to cope with the suffocating Ireland defence when the game was still in the balance.

    Full-back Minozzi, 21, looks to be a real find for the Azzurri, who can no longer rely on an ageing pack of forwards to keep them in games.

    Larmour makes his bow
    Larmour is having the kind of rookie season that dreams are made of.

    The young Leinster tyro was still on an academy contract at the beginning of this season, but has made a rapid rise through the ranks and is now a capped international.

    The 20-year-old had a mixed Test debut, with one scintillating burst up the centre in the closing minutes getting the crowd at the Aviva Stadium to its feet.

    However, he was badly caught out for Italy's second try as he rushed up in pursuit of Carbery's clearing kick but was easily beaten by Minozzi as Italy counter-attacked down the left wing.

    Man of the match - Conor Murray (Ireland)
    [​IMG]
    Ireland's scrum-half scored the home side’s second try and set a tempo Italy couldn’t live with in the opening 50 minutes to demonstrate why he is the most highly rated number nine in the championship
    What's next
    The first rest week of the 2018 Six Nations will give both sides a chance to assess the opening two rounds.

    The likes of O'Brien, Garry Ringrose and Niall Scannell are all in varying stages of recovery and will be hoping to earn a call-up to the Ireland camp before the visit of Wales on 24 February.

    Italy continue to show signs of progress under O'Shea and will travel to Paris in two weeks' time for a Friday night game against a team in rebuilding mode.

    Two of Italy's last five Six Nations wins have been against Les Bleus, although both of those came in Rome.

    Teams
    Ireland: Kearney; Earls, Henshaw, Aki, Stockdale; Sexton, Murray; McGrath, Best (capt), Furlong, Henderson, Toner, O'Mahony, Leavy, Conan.

    Replacements: Cronin (Best, 60), Healy (McGrath, 67), Porter (Furlong, 3), Roux (Henderson, 40), Stander (Conan, 40), Marmion (Murray, 50), Carbery (Sexton, 50), Larmour (Henshaw, 44).

    Italy: Minozzi; Benvenuti, Boni, Castello, Bellini; Allan, Violi; Quaglio, Bigi, Ferrari, Zanni, Budd, Negri, Steyn, Parisse (capt).

    Replacements: Ghiraldini (Bigi, 44), Lovotti (Quaglio, 36), Pasquali (Ferrari, 56), Ruzza (Negri, 57), Mbanda (Steyn, 44), Gori (Violi, 57), Canna, Hayward (Boni, 56).

    Match officials
    Referee: Romain Poite (France)

    Touch judges: Pascal Gauzere (France) & Matthew Carley (France)

    TMO: David Grashoff (England)

    Swami
     
  6. Swami

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    Six Nations: England 12-6 Wales
    [​IMG]
    By Tom Fordyce

    Chief sports writer at Twickenham



    [​IMG]
    Jonny May's first-half double proved decisive
    Six Nations: England v Wales
    England (12) 12
    Tries:
    May 2 Cons: Farrell
    Wales (3) 6
    Pens:
    Patchell, Anscombe
    A brace of first-half tries from Jonny May made it two Six Nations wins from two for England as they stretched their unbeaten home run to 15 games.

    In wintry conditions at Twickenham May's predatory finishing combined with resolute defence and a canny kicking game held Wales at arm's length despite a tense finale.

    Wales kept Eddie Jones's men scoreless in the second half as they clawed their way back into the game and Gareth Anscombe's late penalty put them within a converted try of the hosts, but handling errors and questionable decisions at key moments hurt their chances.


    The visitors will also question the first-half decision from the television match official that denied Anscombe a try when he thought he had been the first player to get a hand to a chip into the England in-goal area.

    England have now won 25 of their last 26 games, and with Scotland up next remain on target for a third championship title in three years.

    Wales have now won just one of their last six away matches in this tournament, the optimism engendered by their opening day win breaking against a white-shirted wall.

    More to follow.

    England: Brown; Watson, Joseph, Farrell, May; Ford, Care; M Vunipola, Hartley (capt), Cole, Launchbury, Itoje, Lawes, Robshaw, Simmonds.

    Replacements: George, Hepburn, H Williams, Kruis, Underhill, Wigglesworth, Te'o, Nowell.

    Wales: Halfpenny; Adams, S Williams, Parkes, Evans; Patchell, G Davies; Evans, Owens, Lee, Hill, AW Jones (capt), A Shingler, Navidi, Moriarty.

    Replacements: Dee, W Jones, Francis, B Davies, Tipuric, A Davies, Anscombe, North.

    Swami
     
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    Six Nations: Scotland 32-26 France
    [​IMG]
    By Andy Burke

    BBC Scotland at Murrayfield



    [​IMG]
    Huw Jones dives over to score Scotland's second try, his eighth in 13 Tests
    2018 Six Nations
    Scotland (14) 32
    Tries:
    Maitland, Jones Cons: Laidlaw 2 Pens: Laidlaw 6
    France (20) 26
    Tries:
    Thomas 2 Cons: Machenaud 2 Pens: Machenaud 2, Serin 2
    Scotland put defeat by Wales behind them to overcome France at Murrayfield and revive their Six Nations campaign.

    The first of two Teddy Thomas tries put France into an early 10-0 lead before Sean Maitland crossed for Scotland.

    Thomas gathered a lucky bounce to score again but the hosts replied via Huw Jones' try, only for Maxime Machenaud's second penalty to put France 20-14 up.


    Greig Laidlaw kicked six penalties, to two from Baptiste Serin, to steer the Scots home in a tense second half.

    Scotland will next face reigning champions England at Murrayfield on Saturday, 24 February (16:45 KO), while France host Italy on Friday, 23 February (20:00 KO).

    The fashion in which Scotland were swatted away by Wales on the opening day caused a hasty reassessment in some quarters of what Gregor Townsend's men could realistically achieve in this championship, having been tipped by many as potential dark horses for the title.

    France were nursing their own wounds, denied victory against Ireland in Paris by a dramatic Johnny Sexton drop-goal in the last play of the game.

    [​IMG]
    Thomas' stunning try looked to have given France victory in that match before Sexton's late heroics. With less than three minutes on the clock here, the winger ripped the Scottish defence to shreds.

    Collecting a pass five metres inside the Scottish half wide on the right, Thomas brushed off a weak Finn Russell tackle, skipped around Peter Horne and away from Stuart Hogg to coast over.

    Machenaud's conversion and subsequent penalty saw the nervous Murrayfield faithful glance up at a scoreboard showing their team 10-0 down after 10 minutes, but the Scotland response was not long in coming.

    A clever kick from Hogg forced an attacking line-out deep in French territory. After running through the phases - something they struggled badly with last weekend - the Scots picked their moment to go wide, Russell timing the scoring pass to Maitland to perfection.

    Scotland's attacking style drew many plaudits in the autumn, but if Wales proved they do not have a monopoly on ambitious rugby, the French seemed intent on ramming it down their throats.

    After pulling the home side from side to side, the ball was shipped to Thomas. The Racing 92 flier chipped ahead and as the bounce took the ball away from the covering Laidlaw, Thomas gathered to re-establish the 10-point lead.

    [​IMG]
    Teddy Thomas' first-half brace took his try tally to eight in 10 Tests
    The next score was going to be crucial to Scottish confidence - on the field and in the stands - and the stadium erupted when Jones cut a gorgeous short line to take Laidlaw's pass, slice through the France defence and go in under the posts.

    Another Machenaud penalty gave the French a 20-14 half-time lead, but it was the Scots that began the second period on the front foot. The impressive Grant Gilchrist blasted through a couple of tackles to get the French retreating and when they infringed on the floor, Laidlaw kicked Scotland back within three.

    Serin, on for Machenaud at scrum-half, and Laidlaw traded penalties as the initiative swung one way and then another, with referee John Lacey's whistle checking the momentum of both sides.

    Serin struck again from the tee, but Laidlaw hit back once more, and going into the final quarter it seemed the team who could conjure a try would probably go on and win the game.

    Laidlaw popped over his fourth penalty to level things up at 26-26. Townsend then sprung a surprise by removing captain John Barclay and Russell, guilty of a couple of basic errors, to make way for David Denton and Ali Price, with Laidlaw moving to fly-half.

    The home side were in the ascendency, their replacements bringing the intended energy to their play, and with 10 minutes remaining Laidlaw's fifth penalty gave them the lead for the first time.

    Another, with four minutes left, gave the former captain a 22-point haul from a flawless eight shots at goal, and Murrayfield was soon erupting in relief and celebration.

    Team line-ups:
    Scotland: Hogg; Seymour, Jones, Horne, Maitland; Russell, Laidlaw; Reid, McInally, Berghan, Gilchrist, Gray, Barclay (capt), Watson, Wilson.

    Replacements: Lawson, Bhatti (for Reid, 58), Welsh, Toolis (for Gilchrist, 58), Denton (for Barclay, 65), Price (for Russell, 65), Harris, Kinghorn.

    France: Palis; Thomas, Lamerat, Doumayrou, Vakatawa; Beauxis, Machenaud; Poirot, Guirado (capt), Slimani, Iturria, Vahaamahina, Lauret, Camara, Tauleigne

    Replacements: Pelissie (for Guirado, 75), Ben Arous (for Poirot, 58), Gomes Sa (for Slimani, 58), Gabrillagues, Picamoles (for Tauleigne, 58), Serin (for Machenaud, 41), Belleau (for Beauxis, 71), Fall (for Vakatawa, 71).

    Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)

    Touch judges: Nigel Owens (Wales) & Paul Williams (New Zealand)

    TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)

    Swami
     

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