But beating France for the second time this year turned out to be one game too many as Fabien Galthie’s men claimed a vital victory in Edinburgh thanks to Virimi Vakatawa’s try and 17 points off Thomas Ramos’ boot. .
The first half was a battle between kickers, with Duncan Weir ensuring Scotland are at 12-12 level after pulling off all four of their attempts.
But the standoff could only add three more points after the break to leave the Scots almost out of the play-off for first place in the competition in a fortnight.
Scotland will be inactive next week after seeing next week’s clash with Covid-hit Fiji, but France can reserve their place in the final with a win over Italy in Paris.
It was obvious early on that keeping referee Wayne Barnes by his side would be key for both teams – but neither had much joy on that front.
It was Scotland who found themselves in the ugly books in the first 10 minutes, with Chris Harris not rolling and Ramos scoring the opening penalty.
Blair Kinghorn’s body unnecessary control over Antoine Dupont cost the Scots decent territory, but the big wing redeemed itself soon after when he crossed his own line to prevent Vakatawa from hitting Gael’s smart kick. Fickou.
However, Ramos kicked in again as Les Bleus were forced to settle for three points.
Scotland identified Vincent Rattez as the weak spot in the visitors’ defense, targeting him with a series of high balls. The ploy paid off when the wing ended up with three white jerseys on it.
Scotland’s staunch attack didn’t do much for the French rearguard, but Weir did what was necessary with his first penalty to cut the deficit in half.
– France Rugby (@FranceRugby) November 22, 2020
France were now the team on Barnes’ wrong side, with Gregory Alldritt penalized for preventing Scotland from recovering a clean ball as he flopped on a ruck. Weir split the posts again to level the scores.
France then appeared to have passed up a good attacking opportunity when Matthieu Jalibert threw a loose pass, but Ramos had other ideas, pushing his way through the Scottish line with a lacerating run that cleared the space for Jalibert to score a surprise drop-goal.
With the clash effectively being a semi-final to decide who will play for the trophy in two weeks, both teams took points each time they were offered.
Weir brought the hosts down again after another French tackle found himself unable to stray from Ali Price’s path – only for Matt Fagerson who immediately gave Ramos the opportunity to put France back in front with a other fault violation.
Weir, however, shot at Scotland at the break after Alldritt’s clash, but only after the Dark Blues defense – which has only dispatched seven tries in the last seven games – broke down. held firm on the line to block a desperate charge from Galthie’s attackers. .
It took France just two minutes after the restart to produce the first real quality moment of the match as Fickou’s offload freed Rattez crossing a huge gap before handing over to Vakatawa to score the first try.
Scotland responded with Weir’s fifth penalty, but holding the frantic French peloton became an increasingly difficult task as Les Bleus took the upper hand on the free kick.
Ramos continued his clear evening with the boot to give another penalty that moved his team seven forward.
France offered a late prospect with a number of botched mistakes, but Townsend’s side were unable to capitalize. And they were left to taste the bitter taste of defeat for the first time since February, when Stuart Hogg’s inability to find the corner with a time-out penalty sealed France’s victory.
Here is how the Scottish players’ performance was assessed, with mistakes costing the home side #SCOvFRAhttps://t.co/zGTSKvHz06
– RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 22, 2020
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