Vakatawa's try decisive as France beat Scotland in Nations Cup

·3 min read
Key score - Virimi Vakatawa (2L) runs in the only try of France's 22-15 win over Scotland at Murrayfield
Key score - Virimi Vakatawa (2L) runs in the only try of France's 22-15 win over Scotland at Murrayfield

Virimi Vakatawa scored the only try of the match as France beat Scotland 22-15 in an Autumn Nations Cup international at Murrayfield on Sunday.

Full-back Thomas Ramos kicked 14 points and Matthieu Jalibert landed a drop-goal as France gained revenge for a 28-17 loss to Scotland in Edinburgh in March -- Les Bleus' only defeat this year.

Scotland, all of whose points came from five Duncan Weir penalties, had been attempting to win a sixth succesive match for the first time since 1990.

France can finish top of Pool B and gain a place in the showpiece match of December's finals weekend by beating Italy in Paris next week, when Scotland will be out of action after their match against coronavirus-hit Fiji was cancelled.

- 'Victory that counts' -

But France captain Charles Ollivon said this win was its own reward, telling France 2: "It's just the victory that counts, it does everyone a lot of good. We wanted to have a good game here."

A tryless first half ended all square at 12-12.

But Vakatawa's well-worked try soon after the break saw France pull clear at 19-12.

With 80 minutes on the clock, the hosts still had one last chance to draw level but Scotland captain Stuart Hogg, attempting to set up a line-out in the hope of an equalising converted try, kicked a penalty dead rather than into touch.

"Frustrating," Hogg told Amazon Prime when asked for his view of the match.

"It was the team that didn't crack first that won in the end. We'll get back on the horse."

As for his dead kick, the full-back added: "I'll take it on the chin, I made a mistake. I'm old enough and ugly enough to realise that, I don't need other people to tell me."

France opened the scoring through full-back Ramos' third-minute penalty.

Vakatawa was then denied a try from Gael Fickou's kick after he was ruled not to have controlled the ball.

France already had a penalty and Ramos made it 6-0 before fly-half Weir tied the game.

But Jalibert, only playing in place of injured first-choice France fly-half Romain Ntamack, landed a well-taken drop-goal.

A penalty exchange left France 12-9 ahead before more French indiscipline allowed Weir, from 42 metres, to land his fourth penalty.

France's Camille Chat was cleared of leading with the elbow and the hooker then helped win a scrum penalty at the end of the half which, at the urging of coach Fabien Galthie, they kicked for a line-out in the hope of a try rather than take the three points on offer.

But from an ensuing driving maul, France were held up over the try-line as the teams turned round level at 12-12.

France, however, did have a try just two minutes into the second half.

From a scrum, Vincent Rattez came off his wing to take an inside ball and burst clear.

Rattez then found powerhouse centre Vakatawa, who held off a despairing effort from Hogg for a try converted by Ramos.

Weir, who might not have been playing had leading Scotland stand-offs Finn Russell and Adam Hastings been fit, kept the Dark Blues in the game with a fifth penalty.

France squandered a potential second try when Vakatawa cut inside before Fickou was held up short of the line.

But France's increasingly powerful rolling maul produced a penalty that Ramos kicked to put his side 22-15 up heading into the final quarter.

Scotland then botched a close range line-out before Ramos' long-range penalty six minutes from time fell short as a nervous France struggled to put the result beyond doubt.