Virimi Vakatawa's try decisive as France beat Scotland in Nations Cup
EDINBURGH – 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.
Victory saw France gain revenge for a 28-17 defeat in Edinburgh in March – Les Bleus' only loss this year – as they stopped Scotland from recording a sixth succesive win.
The win left France top of Pool B and on course for a place in the showpiece match of next month's Nations Cup finals weekend.
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.
🏴🇫🇷 𝐕𝐈𝐂𝐓𝐎𝐈𝐑𝐄 ! 😍 Le #XVdeFrance s'impose aujourd'hui à Murrayfield pour la première fois depuis 2014 et remporte sa première victoire sur le terrain dans cette @autumnnations 2020 ! 🔥 #ECOFRA #NeFaisonsXV pic.twitter.com/ozasSIL3L2— France Rugby (@FranceRugby) November 22, 2020
France full-back Thomas Ramos kicked four penalties and a conversion, with Matthieu Jalibert's drop-goal their other score.
All of Scotland's points came from five Duncan Weir penalties.
France went ahead through 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 French infringements allowed fly-half Weir to tie the game.
But Jalibert, playing in place of injured first-choice fly-half Romain Ntamack, landed a well-taken drop-goal, an increasingly rare score in Test rugby.
Très fier de ce groupe qui s’offre une dernière belle victoire pour 2020 🇫🇷— William Servat (@WilliamServat) November 22, 2020
La récompense du travail des dernières semaines 💪🏼 pic.twitter.com/ydHsdAbfVQ
A penalty exchange left France 12-9 ahead before more French indiscipline allowed Weir, from 42 metres, to land his fourth successful goal-kick.
France hooker Camille Chat was cleared of leading with the elbow and then helped his side win a scrum penalty which, at the urging of coach Fabien Galthie and with 40 minutes on the clock, 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 Vakatawa, who held off a despairing effort from Scotland captain Stuart Hogg, with the full-back unable to prevent the powerhouse centre from grounding the ball for a try converted by Ramos.
Weir, however, kept Scotland in the game with a fifth penalty.
France squandered a potential second try when Vakatawa cut inside rather than exploit an overlap before Fickou was held up short of the line.
But France's powerful rolling maul was proving increasingly difficult for Scotland to combat and it produced a penalty.
Ramos made it five from five from the tee and France were 22-15 ahead heading into the final quarter.
Scotland, however, botched a close range line-out but Ramos's long-range penalty six minutes from time fell short as a nervous France struggled to put the result beyond doubt.
With 80 minutes on the clock, Scotland still had a chance to draw level but Hogg, attempting to set up a Scotland line-out in the hope of an equalising converted try, kicked a penalty dead rather than into touch.