France up and running
Scotland score three tries in Paris but still end up well beaten
By Graeme Mair. Last Updated: 05/02/11 7:34pm
Early score: Medard touched down in the third minute
Defending champions France got straight back into the RBS Six Nations groove with a 34-21 victory over Scotland in Paris.
Tries from Maxime Medard, Imanol Harinordoquy, Damien Traille and a penalty try were enough to see off a battling effort from Scotland, who were always playing catch-up after Medard opened the scoring in the third minute.
Last year's Grand Slam winners showed no hangover from their autumn troubles, which included a 59-16 defeat to Australia at the same venue last time out. They produced some of their trademark free-flowing rugby, alongside the occasional lethargic spell, and also took the visitors' scrum apart.
Scotland, who came into the game on a run of five wins out of six, also emerged with plenty of credit and managed three tries of their own through Alastair Kellock, Kelly Brown and Sean Lamont.
France scored with their first attack of the game as a turnover on halfway was converted into a try in the blink of an eye.
Flanker Thierry Dusautoir scooped up the loose ball and released Aurelien Rougerie, whose grubber kick ahead bounced kindly for Medard to finish in the left corner.
Morgan Parra added the extras from out wide and the lead was extended to 10-0 inside 10 minutes when fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc capped the home side's next foray with a drop-goal.
A rout looked on the cards at that point with France threatening every time the ball went wide.
But Scotland were also causing occasional problems with their more direct approach and they gained a foothold in the contest with a try of their own on 18 minutes.
Skipper Kellock, leading his country for the first time in the Six Nations, capped several phases of sustained possession by burrowing beneath William Servat. Dan Parks converted.
Despite Scotland having the heavier pack, France were dominating the scrums and soon convinced referee Wayne Barnes to award a penalty try.
Barnes offered a final warning after prop Euan Murray was twice adjudged to be guilty of collapsing on Scotland's own five-metre line.
But the English official's words went unheeded as the visiting pack immediately infringed again - this time both locks standing up mid-shove.
Parra's conversion was successful and France went through to the break with a 17-7 advantage.
The game went into a lull early in the second half but was brought back to life in spectacular fashion on 54 minutes.
Harinordoquy showed an impressive turn of pace for a number eight to go in untouched under the posts after Trinh-Duc had kept the ball alive with an outrageous between-the-legs pass.
That score, Harinordoquy's 13th in the Six Nations, was his final act of the match as France coach Marc Lievremont took the chance to give Sebastien Chabal a run out. Dimtiri Yachvili, on in place of Parra at scrum-half, landed the conversion to put the hosts 24-7 ahead.
Scotland also made a raft of changes in an effort to salvage something and did manage a second try in the 61st minute when number eight Brown powered over from short range.
But the reprieve was shortlived, France saving their best try for last. Again it came from a midfield turnover, this time Medard was the provider with a weaving run before Traille was the eventual beneficiary of the scoring pass.
There was still time for Scotland to muster another response, replacement Lamont touching down in the 76th minute.
France had the opportunity to go for the corner in the dying stages but were instead content to kick the penalty, Yachvili ignoring the boos to complete the scoring.