France are storming towards a Grand Slam in the Six Nations as they secured their third win with a 36-17 defeat over Scotland.
Paul Willemse capitalized on a spectacular break from captain Antoine Dupont to put France ahead. Scotland closed the gap with a penalty but France punished them again with a sensational team try.
Damian Penaud kept the ball alive as he was about to be pushed into touch with Cyril Baille doing the same seconds later. Yoram Moefana crashed over in a cracking start for the visitors.
After a sustained period of pressure Scotland got their first try through Rory Darge, who made his first start for his country. But Gael Fickou canceled out all the hosts’ good work as he powered over for a great solo try.
France capitalized on a Scotland mistake in the second half and Jonathan Danty dotted down. Penaud then scored two tries with Duhan van der Merwe getting a late score.
What did we learn in the match? Here are five points from the match.
France are on for the Grand Slam
It may not have been as pretty a win as their victory was over Ireland but France won’t care as they are in full control of this year’s championship. France haven’t won the Six Nations since 2010 and they will be vying for the Grand Slam with just England and Wales standing in their way.
France are building well with their first game against Italy showing an average performance by their standards. They managed to dispatch from Ireland, their closest rivals for the trophy this year, in a great display and now they have got past Scotland.
It was the first time France have beaten Scotland in the Six Nations since 2019. And this win will be even sweeter as Scotland denied them the title last year with their first win in Paris for 22 years.
Darge is an exciting talent
For anyone who has followed Scotland’s club rugby won’t be surprised by this point as Rory Darge has been exciting for Glasgow Warriors for a few seasons now.
But today’s match was just his second cap and first start for Scotland and he proved himself to be a player for the future. He scored a try when Scotland needed points on the board and he crushed French pressure as he turned over two balls at the breakdown.
Darge not only showed his skills going forward as he put in a great covering tackle on Yoram Moefana. He has put a line in the sand on why he should continue to be given a starting shirt. If he keeps the good form up, he could well be in Paris in 2023.
dupont still flying
Antoine Dupont is the World Rugby Player of the Year and France’s first try was a prime example as to why. He made a huge break, running almost the entire pitch and beating four defenders in the process.
The captain led from the front and it wasn’t just his attacking that impressed. He won a penalty at the ruck as he and Damian Penaud held the player so he couldn’t release. But his attack from him was unbelievable as his fast passing skills meant Scotland could n’t re-organize their defense which led to the second French try.
The absence of Charles Ollivon has been felt but the skipper duties are in fine hands.
Hogg’s knock-on heartbreak
Just before half-time Duhan van der Merwe created an incredible opportunity as he made a break. He was tackled by Jaminet but he offloaded Chris Harris to keep the ball alive. He fizzed a pinpoint pass to captain Stuart Hogg but the skipper couldn’t gather in what would have been a run-in sure try.
When the team review the game in the build-up to their next match, against Italy, Hogg will be haunted by the error. Especially as it would have put Scotland ahead just before the break and could have changed the entire match.
It was an uncharacteristic error from Hogg and while no-one can have a perfect game every week, the full-back was a lot quieter than he usually is. Hogg was rallying the referee, continuing to be a valuable captain for his team, but he wasn’t involved in match action as much as many would have expected.
Should Jaminet have had a yellow?
Melvyn Jaminet clattered into Sam Skinner as they both attempted to catch a high ball. However, Skinner was already in the air and Jaminet jumped into him which saw Skinner down for a sustained period.
Referee Karl Dickson initially didn’t think it was a dangerous tackle, allowing play to continue, but it was then reviewed. It was judged just a penalty as Jaminet was attempting to catch the ball but the boos and hisses from the Murrayfield crowd said supporters didn’t agree.
Social media was abuzz with the incident with fans sharing their views on Twitter. One fan said “Jaminet’s gotta walk. Yellow minimum”, another said “just a penalty awarded, think Jaminet is a lucky boy there. At least a yellow for me.” and a third said “Karl Dickson bottled that. In the modern game, that’s a yellow card. Reckless from Jaminet. He turns away and hits him in the face.”
But by the letter of the law, the correct decision was made.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.