Six Nations: France finish bottom of the table despite win over Scotland
By Paul Higham Twitter: @SkySportsPaulH. Last Updated: 17/03/13 10:43am
France managed to end their dismal RBS Six Nations campaign with 23-16 win over Scotland at the Stade de France, but it was not enough to spare them the indignity of finishing bottom of the table.
Needing not only a first win of the Six Nations but a comfortable one to relegate Ireland to last place in the table, France did not look like getting even the two points as they trailed 9-6 after a dire first half display.
However, Philippe Saint-Andre's half-time teamtalk did the trick as they came out firing in the second half and tries from Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard saw them open up a promising gap as Scotland tired following long periods of defending.
Tim Visser had other ideas though and his try got Scotland back into it late on and took the wind out of French sails as they had to settle for winning their first game of the championship and accept finishing bottom of the table.
Scotland made a bright start to the game and Laidlaw slotted a penalty after eight minutes, and doubled Scotland's lead to 6-0 with 15 minutes gone as they continued to play better, especially in the tactical kicking game.
France had the upper hand up front and poured on the pressure but without being able to find a breakthrough - Louis Picamoles was held up over the line and France gave away a needless penalty when just a metre from the Scottish line.
Frederic Michalak's kick out right was cleverly volleyed forward by Vincent Clerc soon after, but after Scotland managed to haul down Wesley Fofana ten minutes out he then knocked-on a couple of phases later and another chance was wasted.
France emerged a different side after the break, especially Michalak, who was far more positive and who got his side's first points on the board with a 45th minute penalty.
A more expansive French attack came at Scotland this time, with a far greater intensity and it forced the visitors to concede two more quick penalties, which Michalak converted to put them in front for the first time at 9-6.
As France do though, they gave away a silly penalty moments later to allow Laidlaw to level, but the hosts did not get their heads down and continued to pile forward in search of a try.
Replacement prop Vincent Debaty popped up on the wing with a barnstorming run which should have resulted in a try but he got lost in the moment and somehow failed to pass to Clerc who would have ran in an easy score.
France did get their try on 65 minutes when some more persistent phases of possession and quick hands eventually gave exciting centre Fofana the chance to show his finishing skills down the right - and his tried was converted for a 16-9 lead.
As Scotland tired Maxime Medard danced in under the posts to make it 23-9 and suddenly the wide-margin victory needed to escape the wooden spoon looked on.
Three minutes from time though Scotland produced a fine breakaway try with Visser diving over to reduce the gap and cap a decent display from the Scots and more frustration for France who at least put on a more decent display in the second half.
RBS Six Nations 2013 Week 5
Richard Hibbard says English complaints about the refereeing during the recent Six Nations match are unfounded.
England will seek "clarification" from the IRB about the performance of referee Steve Walsh in the 30-3 defeat by Wales.
Brian O'Driscoll has been cited for an alleged stamp during Ireland's Six Nations defeat to Italy on Saturday.
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