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Gnnnnhhhh… what time is it? Why am I up?
France: Jared Taylor; Justin Murphy, John Wilson, Sebastien Raguin, Teddy Sadaoui; Thomas Bosc, Maxime Greseque; Adel Fellous, Julien Rinaldi, Olivier Elima; Jerome Guisset, Eric Anselme; Gregory Mounis.
Replacements: James Wynne, Remi Casty, Jamal Fakir, Christophe Moly, Laurent Carrasco. (one to be omitted)
Scotland: Michael Robertson; Dean Colton, Dean Cowan, Kevin Henderson, Jon Steel; John Duffy, Danny Brough (c); Scott Logan, Ian Henderson, Paul Jackson; Iain Morrison, Duncan MacGillivray; Lee Patterson.
Replacements: Oliver Wilkes, Chris Armit, Mick Nanyn, Andrew Henderson
God, the Scots should have taken singing lessons…
FRANCE 24 – 18 SCOTLAND
0mins: Bosc gets us underway, and France’s defence starts well
1 min: Danny Brough gets away a monster kick only for Scotland to give away an extra penalty, John Duffy coming after the tackle was completed.
2 min: Michael Robertson shows his class making a break on the kick return, only to lose the ball in a very heavy tackle.
4 mins: A Julien Rinaldi knock-on is followed with a penalty to Scotland, and the Bravehearts get out of their half for the first time.
6 mins: France appear to be developing a bad habit of conceding a penalty every time they tackle Scotland, but Iain Morrison manages to knock on (with the help of a French hand), and France have a decent position.
8 mins: Scotland are on the attack, but Julien Rinaldi appears to have fallen off a tackle in a bad way and is lying on the floor. A beautiful Brough chip just rolls out at the corner.
10 mins: The overall completion rate is barely above 50%, and I can smell the coffee downstairs.
11 mins: Scotland get another scrum deep inside the French half, but Robertson again drops it. He hasn’t started well, has he?
12 mins: Eric Anselme tries to force a ball out of the tackle, and ends up needing medical attention for his troubles. He’s staying down and this doesn’t look good.
Anselme is now being carted off the field on the medical van. Let’s hope it’s not too serious. It looked like he failed to protect himself from the fall in the tackle.
Play restarts, after an aborted attempt which produces a terrible Rinaldi pass.
13 mins: France finally start throwing the ball around and look threatening, but Guisset gets caught on an attempted power-play on the fifth.
15 minutes: TRY Jared Taylor CONVERSION Thomas Bosc
Sebastian Fellous breaks through some weak Scots defence right down the middle, and Taylor follows in support to render Robertson obselete. Bosc converts
FRA 6 – 0 SCO
18 mins: TRY Jon Steel CONVERSION Danny Brough
Good pressure from the kick off means Scotland get the ball close to the French line, and a beautiful passing movement opens up enough space down the flank for Jon Steel to sneak in. Brough lands a touchline conversion.
FRA 6 -6 SCO
21 mins: Anselme is shown on the side in a neck brace, but moving. Apparently it’s mild concussion and he won’t take further part in this game.
22 Mins: Close one. France put up a high kick which Raguin collects and he puts Greseque away. Maxme is caught just before the line, but apparently Raguin was offside and we go back.
23 Mins: Another Scottish kick, another scramble on the French line, after which Duncan MacGillvaray touches down. Unfortunately for them, the video ref finds a Michael Robertson knock in the buid up. That’s on near miss each in a row.
25 mins: Anselme has the neck brace off now. Scotland make a break with Kevin Henderson rampaging through. Brough puts up a towering bomb, but Saddoui diffuses it well.
27 mins: TRY Jerome Guisset CONVERSION Bosc
Do not mess with the Guister! He barges over from close range, just managing to stretch his arm over the line, although Scotland will not be happy with the defensive effort there.
FRA 12 -6 SCO
30 mins: Definite shift in momentum towards the French as Greseque puts in a booming 40-20
32 mins: TRY John Wilson CONVERSION Bosc
Haha! Bosc puts up a beautiful chip and Wilson jumps up to take the ball and it falls out of his arms to be caught with his knees. He rolls over, pulls the ball from his legs’ grasp and touches down. The video ref confirms it all.
FRA 18 – 6 SCO
34 Mins: Well, things just aren’t going Michael Robertson’s way here. A peach of a Greseque kick looks like it’s going to roll dead, only to hold up in goal as Robertson tries to shepherd it out. He has to take it over the dead-ball line
39 mins: Well, a rather tame end to the half almost ends excitingly as Dean Colton tries to chip ahead. Alas , the bounce doesn’t go his way and the ball ends up in French hands as the hooter goes.
HALF TIME: France 18 – 6 Scotland
Hmm, a niggly game which took a while to get going, but both teams appear to have settled down. There does appear to be a pattern of northern hemisphere sides not performing as the World Cup begins, but they’re getting there. France are winning the collisions down the middle here, and Scotland need to both up the defensive ante and also find more penetration. I need more coffee.
Hopefully both teams will throw caution to the wind in this second half. Scotland certainly need more attacking effort here, although it would help if they had some territory to work with.
40 mins: Here we go again. Scotland kick-off and Remi Casty takes the first hit-up of the second half.
41 mins: Ian Henderson makes a great break down the middle and is only stopped by a Casty high tackle. Scotland are now in prime real estate. They threaten the line but end up kicking back to the French, Saddoui taking the ball back into the field of play.
43 mins: K Henderson is looking pretty threatening, but he’s just not breaking through. Brough kicks the ball dead, but a big Gavin Cowan hit gets Scotland a scrum for the knock-on. You get the feeling they need to score soon.
44 mins: TRY Oliver Wilkes CONVERSON Brough
Speak of the devil. A beautiful Brough pump-fake means the French fall for the dummy-runner, and Brough instead puts in a great pass for Wilkes to run in. Brough adds the easy conversion.
47 mins: Scotland have clearly got the attacking momentum, but they waste a potential drop-out when the chasers from Brough’s kick into the in-goal are offside.
48 mins: Saddoui tries to break down the flank, only for Mick Nanyn to drag him into touch.
52 mins: Scotland again spurn momentum, with Andrew Henderson knocking on (due to a French swipe) in midfield.
53 mins: TRY Sebastian Raguin CONVERSION Bosc
Fabulous try from France. James Wynne breaks free in midfield and reallyhe should put one of about four supporting runners free for a try. Instead he gets caught, but it’s no matter as Bosc puts in a beautiful chip which Raguin runs onto and he touches down. Bosc adds the extras.
FRA 24 – 12 SCO
55 mins: The momentum is back with France as Wynne puts in another French 40-20.
57 mins: The position is wasted though, as France fail to threaten and Wynne’s grubber goes dead.
58 mins: Doh! Raguin tries to break down the left flank from inside his 20, only to throw the wide pass into touch.
60 mins: TRY Dean Colton CONVERSION Brough
Scotland take advantage, first probing the left flank and Robertson is held up close. The next tackle they spread the ball all the way over to the right flank and Dean Colton gets in for a try. Brough again lands an epic touchline conversion.
FRA 24 – 18 SCO
65 mins: Scotland are making metres, but they don’t seem to be threatening to break the line
66 mins: Well, a bizarre passage of play there. Scotland break down the right, and the ball spills out of Rinaldi’s tackle of Mick Nanyn into the French in-goal. Duffy touches down, but the video ref decides that Nanyn knocked on which seems to be the right call.
70 mins; Both teams are making metres in their sets, and putting away good kicks, but neither side looks like they are about to score.
71 mins: Of course, after writing that France nearly break though on every hit-up of their next set. Bosc makes a break and his held up a few metres from the line. It looks like he has offloaded to put Elima in, but the ref rightly says that Bosc’s arm hit the ground before he got the pass away.
72 mins: Now Scotland put in a great kick, by Saddoui diffuses the bomb well
73 mins: TRY Guisset CONVERSION Bosc.
Heh. France batter the line, and Rinaldi puts in a little grubber. Robertson does well to pick it up, but unfortunately for him Guisset is right on him for a one-on-one steal in the in-goal, and he manages to put the ball down. The video ref confirms that nothing nefarious went on, and Bosc adds the easy kick.
76 mins: Robertson finally gets in open space, only for him to put in a kick for the chasers to follow. It sits up nicely in the in-goal, but Saddoui does well to get it back into the field and return it with interest.
79 mins: Scotland chuck the ball around with reckless abandon, and I Henderson puts in a nice kick, but France pick it up and Scotland lose their last chance for a try.
80 mins TRY Christophe Moly CONVERSION Bosc
And France rub it in with a fantastic try. Raguin breaks down the left, passes to the supporting Taylor, who then gives it to Moly who wins the sprint for the corner. Bosc adds the tricky kick.
FULL TIME: France 36 -18 Scotland
Well, that turned into a good game after a worrying stop-start beginning. Both teams showed us some good attacking ability and some questionable discipline. France scored some very nice tries and their final effort was probably try of the tournament so far (still plenty of time to go though). Scotland just seemed to be lacking in penetration down the middle and also in composure, but they can take heart from their effort.
Now I need some breakfast…