France 32-21 Scotland: French puncture Scots’ Six Nations hopes in Paris epic

France: (22) 32
Tries: Ntamack, Dumortier, Ramos, Fickou; Pens: Ramos 2; Cons: Ramos 3
Scotland: (7) 21
Tries: Jones 2, Russell; Cons: Russell 3

France punctured Scotland’s rising belief and restored their own Six Nations title hopes with a hard-fought win in an astonishing contest in Paris.

Both sides suffered red cards in the first 10 minutes, and Scotland trailed 19-0 at one stage before roaring back to make it a four-point game going into the final few minutes.

However, France’s efficiency won out as a missed Scotland lineout allowed Fabien Galthie’s side to go down the pitch, and eventually Gael Fickou powered over to seal a bonus-point win.

It means Ireland – who visit Murrayfield in two weeks – are the only side left chasing a Grand Slam, with France now level with Scotland and England on 10 points after two wins and a defeat.

Romain Ntamack and Ethan Dumortier had scored either side of a red card for Scotland’s Grant Gilchrist, before France’s Mohamed Haouas was also sent off.

Thomas Ramos grabbed an intercept try and two penalties to keep his side ahead, despite two tries from Scotland’s Huw Jones as the visitors put France under severe pressure.

Finn Russell darted over the line and converted his own try to make it a four-point game and set up a grandstand finish with 10 minutes left but ultimately the Scots fell just short.

Ruthless France storm ahead

Most people expected there might be fireworks, but the drama was gripping from the moment the ball left Stuart Hogg’s boot at kick off.

France, clearly hurting from their first loss in over a year to Ireland, laid down the gauntlet as they powered forward before unleashing Ntamack to score in the corner after only four minutes.

And when Gilchrist was sent off for a high tackle into the head of Anthony Jelonch and Dumortier crossed in the corner to make it 12-0 after only nine minutes, Scotland looked like they were about to take a historic battering.

However, Haouas’ moment of madness in flinging himself head first into a clear-out on Ben White handed Scotland a life-line from nowhere and set up a thrilling match.

It was the prop second sending off against Scotland in three years – his previous coming for punching Jamie Ritchie – and from their the visitors grew in stature.

And though Ramos picked off Russell’s long pass to scamper away and make it 19-0, Scotland had the better chances, with Zander Fagerson failing by an inch as he lunged for the line, while Duhan van der Merwe was bundled into touch.

Jones was finally put under the posts by Russell, but Ramos calmly stroked over a penalty to make it a 15-point game at the break.

Six Nations table

Missed opportunity for Scotland

That felt slightly harsh on Scotland, but five minutes after the restart they turned up the pressure. Tuipulotu combined wonderfully with his Glasgow team-mate Jones for the latter’s second try.

And though Russell’s clever show-and-go opened a gap wide enough for him to dart over and move within four points, France were just more ruthless when it counted.

Ramos had already ensured the scoreboard was not static for France in the second half with another penalty, and as then an error at the lineout ultimately cost Scotland their chance to snatch victory.

An overthrow sent France on the march, and though Scotland managed to wrestle back the ball, captain Ritchie was pinged in his own 22 for holding on.

That set the platform for Fickou to score the match-winning try, which killed Scotland’s Grand Slam hopes.

Player of the match – Thomas Ramos

France's Thomas Ramos runs in to score their third try
Sione Tuipulotu was outstanding for Scotland, but Ramos takes it for his decisive 17-point haul


France: Ramos, Penaud, Fickou, Moefana, Dumortier; Ntamack, Dupont (capt); Baille, Marchand, Haouas, Flament, Willemse, Jelonch, Ollivon, Alldritt.

Replacements: Barlot, Wardi, Falatea, Taofifenua, Cros, Macalou, Couilloud, Jalibert.

Scotland: Hogg, Steyn, Jones, Tuipulotu, Van der Merwe; Russell, White; Schoeman, Turner, Z Fagerson, R Gray, Gilchrist, Ritchie (capt), Watson, M Fagerson

Replacements: Brown, Bhatti, Nel, J Gray, Skinner, Dempsey, Price, Kinghorn

Referee: Nika Amashukeli (GRU)

Assistant Referees: Karl Dickson (RFU), Assistant Referee 2: Andrea Piardi (FIR)

TMO: Ben Whitehouse (WRU)

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