The National Times - France thrash Scots to stay on course for Grand Slam

France thrash Scots to stay on course for Grand Slam

France thrash Scots to stay on course for Grand Slam
France thrash Scots to stay on course for Grand Slam

France stayed on course for their first Six Nations Grand Slam and title since 2010 with a thumping 36-17 victory over Scotland at Murrayfield on Saturday.

Change text size:

The French ran in six tries -- including two from Damian Penaud -- to set them up nicely for their two remaining matches away to reigning champions Wales and then at home to England.

France might have been thwarted by Scotland in their last two Six Nations campaigns but there was little doubt about them winning this time after they ran in three tries in the first half by lock Paul Willemse, winger Yoram Moefana and centre Gael Fickou.

Further tries by returning centre Jonathan Denty and Penaud's brace secured their first Six Nations win in Edinburgh since 2014 and their third win out of three in this year’s championship.

"We will savour the moment," said head coach Fabien Galthie.

"We prepared for this to the finest detail. The players produced an extraordinary performance.

"We will spend a while recovering but first let us savour this!"

Scotland, weakened by injury and illness in their forwards, managed just the two tries, courtesy of flanker Rory Darge and winger Duhan van der Merwe.

After opening their campaign with the bang of an opening day victory against England, Gregor Townsend’s side find themselves out of the title race, having lost to Wales two weeks ago

France could even afford the luxury of a wayward afternoon with the boot by their usually trusty place-kicker Melvyn Jaminet, the Perpignan full-back missing two penalties and two of his five conversion attempts.

- Inch-perfect -

It was a dazzling seventh minute break by France’s scrum-half and captain Antoine Dupont that set the dynamic attacking tone and teed up the opening try.

From swiftly recycled possession, hooker Julian Marchand popped up a pass for the giant Willemse to crash over.

Jaminet landed the conversion and, though Scotland's Racing 92 fly-half Finn Russell nailed an 11th minute penalty, France cut loose again from the restart.

Penaud was stopped short in the right corner but again Scotland couldn't cope with the speed of the French handling, prop Cyril Baille feeding centre-turned-wing Moefana for his first international try.

Jaminet's conversion drifted wide and, from 12-3 down, Scotland proceeded to launch a fightback after the young Perpignan full-back was penalised for tackling Scotland lock Sam Skinner in the air while making a bizarre headed intervention.

Scrum half Ali Price and prop Pierre Schoeman were both held up just short before the Darge darted through the defensive line to mark the occasion of his first start for Scotland with a maiden international try after 28 minutes.

Russell's conversion reduced the French lead to 12-10 and the visitors were fortunate to hold on to their slender advantage after a blistering break by van der Merwe in the 37th minute.

Stuart Hogg had a clear overlap on the left but the Scotland captain was unable to gather a long, looping pass from centre Chris Harris.

The Scots were made to pay three minutes later when Fickou used all of his pace and power to squeeze home his side's third try in the right corner, Jaminet's conversion giving France a 19-10 cushion at half-time.

Two minutes into the second half they had the bonus point in the bag, Danty following up Penaud's chip-kick to score in the right corner.

Try number five came in the 59th minute, Penaud powering up the right to score his 15th try for his country.

The Clermont winger bagged his 16th in the 74th minute, gathering an inch-perfect cross kick from fly-half Romain Ntamack to score unopposed.

The clock was already up when van der Merwe burst through for Scotland's second try, a hollow consolation on a deflating afternoon for the thoroughly outclassed home side.