Scots suffer France finale defeat
Published 16/03/2013 | 22:16
France finally collected their first win of the RBS 6 Nations campaign as two quickfire tries proved decisive in a 23-16 victory over Scotland.
The visitors to Paris had shown guts and determination to hold off continued French assaults in the opening 40 minutes but the pressure finally took its toll as Wesley Fofana and Maxime Medard crossed over for converted scores within four second-half minutes.
Scotland had led early from the boot of Greig Laidlaw and were tied at 9-9 as the Edinburgh scrum-half and French playmaker Frederic Michalak exchanged penalties before the home tries arrived.
A late Tim Visser touchdown gave the scoreline a more respectable look than was perhaps deserved but last year's wooden spoon winners can at least console themselves with a third-place finish in the championships - their best result since 2006.
Scotland gained their just rewards after four determined drives into French territory when Laidlaw knocked over the opening penalty following a misdemeanour by the home side at the breakdown - and repeated the feat to make it 6-0.
A dust-up between Hogg and Michalak saw both escape punishment from Welsh referee Nigel Owens, before Michalak kicked the home side's first points from a penalty following a collapsed Scots scrum.
Michalak's guile at fly-half was becoming ever more apparent as he teased the visitors one way and the other and two more penalties were despatched by the Toulon playmaker to put the French ahead for the first time.
Laidlaw soon levelled the scores with his third penalty but Fofana broke through before brushing off Hogg's despairing lunge before running in to score under the posts with 14 minutes left. Michalak added the extra two points to rub salt into freshly-opened Scottish wounds.
Having defended for their lives for most of the match, the tank was now empty and France added a second touchdown with 10 minutes remaining. Quick ball had been a rarity for them for most of the game thanks to the sheer awkwardness of the visitors but there was little resistance as Medard collected from a ruck and skipped in between the sticks.
Maxime Machenaud added the conversion to extend the team's lead to 14 points but that lead was trimmed back to seven, however, as Hogg darted forward before playing in Visser for an easy try, with substitute Ruaridh Jackson converting.