Scotland fight back to beat France in Murrayfield World Cup warm up

The hosts decimated their opponents with a stirring second half showing against a largely second string French side.

Scotland fight back to beat France in Murrayfield World Cup warm up SNS Group

Scotland overcame the loss of key duo Ben White and Zander Fagerson to stage a stirring second-half fightback and defeat France 25-21 in an exhilarating World Cup warm-up match at Murrayfield.

Les Bleus, who fielded a largely second-string side, looked on course for a comfortable victory as they eased into a 21-3 half-time lead.

But the Scots, despite having Fagerson red-carded early in the second half, roared back to record a morale-boosting win with tries from Darcy Graham, Pierre Schoeman and replacement Dave Cherry.

The shine was taken off the triumph, however, by the sight of scrum-half White limping off with a worrying-looking ankle injury just four weeks out from their World Cup opener against South Africa, while they will also face an anxious wait to learn the fate of prop Fagerson following his dismissal.

Scots head coach Gregor Townsend made 13 changes to the experimental team that defeated Italy a week previously, with most of his big-hitters restored.

Finn Russell was handed the captaincy for the first time in the absence of regular skipper Jamie Ritchie, who missed out with a minor calf injury which medical staff hope will subside in time for next weekend’s rematch between the teams in Saint-Etienne.

The French starting line-up featured three debutants in Paul Boudehent, Emilien Gailleton and Louis Bielle-Biarrey, with Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou and Romain Ntamack among a raft of established players given the weekend off.

The team selections meant Scotland – despite being ranked three places beneath the French – went into the match as favourites with bookmakers.

The hosts got the scoreboard up and running in the fourth minute when Russell kicked a penalty between the posts.

However, Les Bleus seized the initiative in scintillating fashion in the 14th minute when Baptiste Couilloud was set free to bound over the line after a brilliant break-away down the right involving Bielle-Biarrey and Matthieu Jalibert. The latter made no mistake with the conversion.

The visitors remained in the ascendancy and stretched their advantage after 24 minutes when debutant Bielle-Biarrey found a gap on the left and darted majestically through it after being fed by Jalibert, who duly converted.

Scotland’s woes deepened when White was forced off with an injury after half an hour, replaced by George Horne.

The scrum-half looked dejected as he made his way off the pitch and punched the bench in frustration before having his ankle bandaged up by medics and limping down the tunnel.

The Scots thought they had reduced the deficit in the 33rd minute when Duhan Van Der Merwe found his way over the line, but play was pulled back for a French scrum following a forward pass.

A disastrous first half for the home side was compounded in the last action before the break when Cameron Woki picked the ball up at the back of a ruck and plunged over the line from close range. Jalibert again added the extras.

Scotland started the second period in brighter fashion, with Graham running on to a cross-field kick from Russell and just doing enough to plant the ball down under pressure from Ethan Dumortier. Following a TMO review to approve the score, Russell kicked the conversion.

Just as the hosts looked to be finding their way back into the match, though, they suffered another blow in the 50th minute when Fagerson was sin-binned for a high challenge on Pierre Bourgarit. Following a bunker review, the offence was subsequently upgraded to a red card.

However, the 14 men further reduced the French lead in the 54th minute as Pierre Schoeman bulldozed his way through to touch the ball down, with Russell converting.

The Scots were rampant and they thought they had got their noses in front when Blair Kinghorn bolted in behind the posts, but it was ruled out for a knock-on by Graham.

Remarkably, however, they did get themselves ahead in the 67th minute when substitute Cherry pushed his way over. This time Russell hit the post with his conversion attempt.

The captain was more accurate six minutes later as his penalty gave the Scots a four-point lead before they withstood some late French pressure to see out the win.

STV News is now on WhatsApp

Get all the latest news from around the country

Follow STV News
Follow STV News on WhatsApp

Scan the QR code on your mobile device for all the latest news from around the country

WhatsApp channel QR Code
Posted in