Explosive Scotland blew the Six Nations title race open as France took gunpowder to their own Grand Slam ambitions in Edinburgh.
A red card for French prop Mohamed Haouas just before half time for punching Jamie Ritchie was the self-inflicted wound that killed Les Bleus dreams of a perfect championship, but Scotland had the class and muscle to make it count with a dominant showing.
And their efforts were even blessed with the appearance of a vivid double rainbow above the skies of the capital, as the home fans danced in the rain while Sean Maitland and Stuart McInally scored tries at sold out Murrayfield Stadium.
The opening six points of the contest came from the boot of Adam Hastings, piercing the uprights from just outside the 22 after 12 minutes, then again from further out after the French fell foul of the referee at the breakdown.
France hit back in the 33rd minute when they finally managed to create an overload on the left wing. After a good scramble defence from Scotland, scrum half Antoine Dupont switched to the empty expanse on the opposite flank to put Damian Penaud over in the corner.
Jalibert’s conversion edged Les Bleus ahead for the first time of the afternoon.
Just moments later the red card for Haouas, who aimed a hook at the jaw of Ritchie amid handbags in the goal area. The officials examined the televised pictures before reaching for red and handing the onus to the Scots.
With the clock dead for half-time a dancing Hastings break set Scotland free, and Sam Johnson found Maitland on the overlap to dot down in the corner and hand the hosts a seven point lead at the break.
The turnaround began with a swing from one end to the other. Scotland earned a massive turnover in the shadow of their own posts as France tried to come out firing.
An electric break from Hogg and Harris set Price galloping and the ball recycled out to Maitland to land his second try of the match and stretch the Scots lead to 21-7.
As the rain poured a double rainbow appeared over Murrayfield and the omen was a great one for the Scots.
Stuart McInally’s lineout was cut out by the opponents but the Edinburgh hooker seized on the loose ball in a flash to gallop clear for the third try of the day under the stunning technicolour skyline.
Townsend unloaded the bench with the victory secured and France regained a foothold for the first time since Haouas’s red card. Captain Charles Ollivon crashed over the line to score after an excellent line break from Gael Fickou.
An 80th minute dash for a bonus point by Kinghorn was ultimately foiled as the winger kicked the ball dead, but this was still an emphatic afternoon for the Scots.
Scotland Player Ratings
Stuart Hogg 8 – Always scanning for space to go and hurt France and found plenty of it with the visitors reduced to 14 men.
Sean Maitland 8 – Deadly finishes from the ultra-consistent Saracens man.
Chris Harris 7 – A defensive rock in the outside channel and showed the muscular carrying that has made him a midfield mainstay at Gloucester.
Sam Johnson 7 – One of the finds of the Townsend era. A constant menace at second receiver.
Blair Kinghorn 7 – Making progress under the high ball and in his defence.
Adam Hastings 8 – Sensational display from the 10 who strung the tired French along the width and length of Murrayfield.
Ali Price 8 – Zippy, clever and hard-nosed when he needed to be. An authoritative display from the Glasgow nine.
Nick Haining 7 – Explosive in contact and made a huge contribution to Scotland winning that battle against the much-vaunted French pack.
Hamish Watson 7 – A nightmare to play against. Whenever French were, so was the tough-as-teak openside.
Jamie Ritchie 8 – An international leader at just 23-years-old, he has cemented his reputation as a ferocious test competitor.
Grant Gilchrist 8 – In from the cold and made up for lost time with a huge shift, dominating the contact area.
Scott Cummings 7 – Put in the hard yards to set the base for a memorable afternoon for Scotland.
Zander Fagerson 8 – Titanic scrummaging and energy in the loose.
Fraser Brown 7 – Against a pack that held a 19st weight advantage, marshalled a scrum that took the Grand Slam hopefuls to the cleaners.
Rory Sutherland 8 – Applied constant pressure in the tight and solid in defence.
Replacements 7 – The bench was unloaded in short order and led to a little drop-off in cohesion, but all contributed to the winning effort.