France vs Scotland RBS 6 Nations: Allez Les… Rouge?

France kicked off their RBS 6 Nations 2015 campaign hosting Scotland at the Stade de France, wearing red for only the third time in their history.

France vs Scotland RBS 6 Nations: Allez Les… Rouge?

Philippe Saint-Andre’s side won through Camille Lopez’s boot.  Poor discipline from a fired up Scotland gave France 15 points.  The French, at times, looked ragged and confused by the strength and determination Scotland came at them with.  In the first quarter, France needed to keep the ball in hand as their kicking game wasn’t great, but they were explosive when given space.

It took Teddy Thomas 15 minutes to get into the game, from then on he was explosive and a real danger to the Scots.

Damien Chouly will be sore today, he put in some massive hits against the Scots and I started to wonder if fitness would be the deciding factor in this fixture.  The French defence kept Scotland at bay and the increased pressure led to a missed drop goal.  Huget silenced his critics (Remember that dive?) with amazing footballing skills and fast, exciting rugby.

In the latter part of the second half, France were relentless in their attack.  An extremely physical game, Scotland had to make some huge hits to keep the French from scoring a try.  Bastareaud was brilliant, his bulk proving invaluable to the French backs, as he supported and tackled the biggest Scots on the park.

In the set piece – the French lineout was strong and the catch and drive effective. Scotland were equally strong and actually had the measure of the French in the scrum.

Camille Lopez, named Man of the Match by French commentators, took advantage of indiscipline from Fife who threw the ball away in clear disgust at himself and gave the French an easy penalty.  Fife, who’d replaced Seymour after only 16 minutes, scored the only try of the match just before half time.

My Man of the Match would have been Spedding, Hogg or Bastareaud.  All three had huge a impact on the game and yes, all of France’s points came from Lopez, but there were greater contributors to the match.

Stats show that France had 54% of possession and 55% of territory,  probably a lot closer than Saint-Andre would have preferred. With 406 metres made and 118 carries, France just edged Scotland, but if lady luck had been with Scotland, things may have been different.

France failed to capitalize after more Scottish indiscipline led to Beattie being sin-binned for coming in at the side, in the last quarter of the game.  Lopez kicked the resulting penalty to the corner and France caught their own lineout and drove for the line.  The ball was stolen by the Scots and kicked to safety by Hogg.  This was probably France’s best chance to score a try and make their win more convincing, but they failed.

Whilst the lineout has been good, France really need to look at the scrum and the quality with which they offload the ball to the backs. The backs are pumped and ready to fly, but in this match, they were let down by the forwards.  If Picamole is recovered sufficiently to play next weekend, the match against the Irish may be closer than currently anticipated.

For me, the Scots played with flair under Cotter and the French should worry about the rest of their matches in this tournament.  Philippe Saint-Andre’s side need to settle and undoubtedly they will, as the tournament progresses.  France play Ireland in Dublin next week.  Philippe Saint-Andre said “We won, so… Scotland played very, very well… It’s a win, but we need to do better than tonight.”

I look forward to watching next week, but can France undermine the favourites at home?  We wait and see.

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