Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

France get off to winning start

Mathieu Bastareaud

Andy Robinson failed to inspire Scotland to an opening RBS 6 Nations victory as monster France centre Mathieu Bastereaud completed a fairytale comeback in a 18-9 win at Murrayfield.

Making his first Test start since disgracing himself by falsely claiming he had been assaulted during his country's tour of New Zealand last summer, the 21-year-old responded with his first two international tries.

Morgan Parra kicked France's other points as try-saving tackles from Thom Evans and Sean Lamont prevented them adding to their tally, while Chris Paterson landed three penalties for the toothless hosts.

When France infringed near their line and Paterson marked his 99th cap by kicking the hosts in front after 10 minutes.

The opening score followed a five-metre scrum, the visitors eventually worked the ball wide to monster centre Bastareaud, who dived over unchallenged. But scrum-half Parra made a complete hash of the touchline conversion.

Francois Trinh-Duc would have scored but for another last-ditch tackle, this time from Sean Lamont. Both sides then exchanged penalties with Parra slotting a penalty from just under 40 metres, while Paterson kicked to cut the deficit to two points after 31 minutes.

Bastareaud was proving unstoppable on his recall following the shame of France's tour of New Zealand, during which he falsely claimed he had been assaulted. The visitors span the ball wide in the 33rd minute and Bastareaud broke clear of the Scottish defence to power over. Parra made no mistake with the toughest of touchline conversions.

France began the second half as they had ended the first and Parra put them further ahead in the 45th minute with his second successful 40-metre penalty.

Trinh-Duc then failed with a speculative drop-goal attempt, while Paterson gave Scotland a sliver of hope when he sent a penalty over. But their forwards were being overrun and Parra should have made them pay with yet another 40-metre penalty which drifted wide.

Lamont - Scotland's best player by a considerable distance - broke through with six minutes left but the move spluttered into nothing like so many before.

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