Edinburgh, Scotland – Virimi Vakatawa scored the crucial second-half try as France beat Scotland 22-15 at Murrayfield on Sunday to take control of their squad in the Autumn Nations Cup and take put in position to win the title in the inaugural competition.
With the halftime score at 12-12, the French took a lead they didn’t want to give up when Vincent Rattez came out of his wing to grab an inside ball and break through Scotland’s defensive line. He unloaded at strapping center Vakatawa, who ignored a tackle from full-back Stuart Hogg and managed to get the ball over the line in the 42nd minute.
Full-back Thomas Ramos converted and then kicked the last of his four penalties to restore France’s seven-point lead, which was enough to doom Scotland to their first loss in six tries and to seal the visitors’ first victory in Edinburgh since 2014.
All of Scotland’s points came from the Duncan Weir half-ruffle shoe.
France won a 28-0 victory over Fiji in the tournament’s first round after the Pacific island nation was unable to play following a coronavirus outbreak in its squad. The Habs can secure the top spot with a victory over Italy in Paris next weekend, which would secure a place in the title match on the first weekend in December.
France only lost once against Italy at home, in 1997.
It was another encouraging result for France, which lost only once in the 2020 pandemic and narrowly missed the Six Nations title.
“It’s just the win that counts, we did it and it’s great for everyone because it was difficult,” said France captain Charles Ollivon after an attrition game in a Murrayfield practically empty.
“We are learning to win and we will have to continue this momentum.”
Scotland had the chance to force a draw in the dying seconds of the game after receiving a penalty, giving Hogg the chance to touch near the corner flag and take a lineout. Hogg only managed to misplace the kick and the ball died, before the final whistle was blown.
Scotland beat Italy 28-17 on the opening weekend and are also expected to claim a 28-0 victory over Fiji after their next weekend game was called off for more than a week at the advance due to positive COVID-19 tests in the Fiji camp.
To have any chance of winning the title match, the Scots need Italy to beat France.
“We were in a standoff today and the effort was exceptional,” said Scotland coach Gregor Townsend. “But to take the next step, we need to seize our opportunities and be specific when we have them.”
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