Scotland beat France at Murrayfield

Scotland's Stuart Hogg (left) and Tim Visser celebrate their victory over France
Scotland's Stuart Hogg (left) and Tim Visser celebrate their victory over France


Scotland ended a decade of failure against France and handed the Six Nations title to England as they claimed a 29-18 win at Murrayfield.

Les Bleus, who needed victory to keep their championship challenge alive, struck early through skipper Guilhem Guirado.

But Stuart Hogg and Duncan Taylor hit back for the Dark Blues, and while France managed a second score on the stroke of half-time from Gael Fickou, the Scots wrapped up victory with Tim Visser's try 13 minutes from time.

Not since 2006 had the Scots managed a victory over France, but Vern Cotter's team - boosted by the return of Alex Dunbar as he partnered the impressive Taylor in midfield - stood up to the physical test presented by the giant French XV.

It was a crucial clash for both teams. For Scotland - buoyed by last month's win over Italy - there is now their first set of back-to-back Six Nations wins since 2013.

But the visitors trudged away from Edinburgh knowing next week's clash with Eddie Jones' England is now all about the Red Rose's Grand Slam quest rather than the title decider France had hoped for.

Guy Noves' team have shown little of the flair that French rugby is famed for so far, but the coach did name his most adventurous line-up of the tournament for their trip to the Scottish capital, with Montpellier's Francois Trinh-Duc starting at fly-half.

And France took just five minutes to show they are more than just a team of battering rams.

A pair of delicious off-loads from Virimi Vakatawa and Wesley Fofana took Dunbar and Hogg out the game as the visitors surged down the right flank, leaving Guirado to dive over.

Trinh-Duc missed the conversion but there was a further blow for Scotland as their own chief playmaker Finn Russell was left wobbling on his feet after a head knock and had to be replaced by Peter Horne.

The French continued pressing forward but failed to capitalise as Trinh-Duc missed another simple kick.

The hosts finally caught their breadth and skipper Greig Laidlaw - winning his 50th cap - fired them in front with a pair of quick-fire penalties.

France came back at Cotter's team but Scotland showed bravery and discipline to keep them out.

And with that solid platform, the Dark Blues were able to launch forward. Horne, Richie Gray and Taylor all carried bravely into contact before Laidlaw released Hogg to dance past Fickou for a try after 33 minutes.

Laidlaw tugged the conversion wide, but within three minutes the Murrayfield crowd were on their feet again. The French were halted on halfway but Taylor spotted a gap and after a quick tap surged 40 yards down the touchline to score in the corner. Laidlaw this time did the business with the extras.

But France responded with impressive cool, playing patiently as they pulled a try back through Fickou in the corner deep into first-half stoppage time, with Maxime Machenaud converting after replacing Trinh-Duc as kicker.

Scotland knew they needed to maintain their intensity levels through the second period if they were to stay in front.

Thankfully for the home side their scrum was operating as well as it had done all tournament and their efforts set up Hogg to thump a huge penalty over from inside his own half.

Those initial gains were wiped out as Machenaud added a penalty.

But France were repeatedly frustrated by resolute Scottish defence and were forced to settle for for another Machenaud kick as the deficit was cut to three.

It sense up a tense final quarter of an hour, and Scotland raised themselves to the challenge superbly.

Gray's brave carry took the Dark Blues into scoring range. From the breakdown, Laidlaw span the ball to Hogg. The pass was above his head but the full-back cleverly batted it on to Visser for the winger to dot down in the corner.

Laidlaw's missed conversion meant Scottish nerves continued to jangle.

However, a knock-on from French full-back Scott Spedding took the pressure off, leaving it to Laidlaw to mark his special day with the kick that sealed the long-awaited triumph, and sparked title celebrations south of the border.