Report: Scotland 5-15 France

Report: Scotland 5-15 France

France edged a tight encounter at Hive Stadium, a game-clinching try denying Scotland a bonus point with the game’s final play.

The hosts, seeking a national record eighth consecutive win, were cheered on by a record crowd for a women’s international in Scotland as over 5,500 pitched up to watch a side with a growing reputation.

 The corresponding fixture in last year’s championship saw France win 55-0, but this new, confident Scotland looked unimpressed with such history from the off.

With a favourable first-half wind, Scotland and in particular Lisa Thomson utilised the conditions to considerable territorial effect, the centre opting for grubbers and clever chips whenever the opportunity arose.

If energies were used in last weekend’s opening win in Wales, the hosts didn’t show it, showing willing to the task of keeping a considerable French pack at bay. Alex Stewart was a particular thorn in the visitors’ side, the 19-year-old so often emerging from the pile of fallen bodies having made a telling contribution.

An intentional knock-on by the otherwise impressive Caity Mattinson gave France the chance to grab the game’s first points, stand-off Lina Queyroi obliging from a favourable distance [0-3, 13 mins].

Helen Nelson missed a penalty from an even more generous angle three minutes later, but it didn’t take long for the home side to take the lead, and it came from what had been up until that point an inconsistent line-out execution.

Elis Martin, whose confidence grew after a couple of early misses, found Emma Wassell with her throw just inside the French 22, before joining the resulting maul and quickly dotting down for her second international try. Nelson’s conversion looked good but hooked left at the last [5-3, 35 mins).

With the help of a clearly encouraged home support, Scotland ended the half when Rachel Malcolm and Evie Gallagher dovetailed to keep a French maul up, meaning the hosts held a narrow lead at the interval.

Half-time: Scotland 5-3 France


France, ranked third in the world, were always going to try to redress the balance, but it took time in lieu of a determined Scottish defensive structure.

The hosts had to contend with a strengthening headwind which meant that possession didn’t equate to territorial gains and the dam broke when French winger Kelly Arbey finished in the right-hand corner, although the tricky conversion was missed, meaning it was a three-point game [5-8, 53 mins].

Scotland tried to rally but were met with tidy defence, notwithstanding a high shot on Chloe Rollie, and when the visitors made any ground with their own ball, that worsening wind felt like every French yard was doubled.

Queyroi hit the post with a 40m penalty attempt to keep Scotland interested in a famous victory but they couldn’t quite threaten inside France’s 22. That the French then added considerable gloss to the scoreline with an 80th minute try hurt the majority of those within Hive Stadium.

Despite a debatable forward pass in the lead-up, substitute back row Emeline Gros barged over to deny Scotland a bonus point, with Queyroi’s conversion completing the match [5-15, 80 mins].

Full-time: Scotland 5-15 France


 Scotland: Meryl Smith (Bristol Bears), Rhona Lloyd (GB Sevens/Stade Borderlais), Emma Orr (Heriot’s Blues), Lisa Thomson (GB Sevens), Coreen Grant (Saracens); Helen Nelson (vice-captain, Loughborough Lightening), Caity Mattinson (Gloucester-Hartpury); Leah Bartlett (Leicester Tigers), Elis Martin (Leicester Tigers) Christine Belisle, Emma Wassell (both Loughborough Lightening), Louise McMillan (Saracens), Rachel Malcolm (captain, Loughborough Lightening), Alex Stewart (Corstorphine Cougars), Evie Gallagher (Bristol Bears).

Replacements: Molly Wright (Sale Sharks) (for Martin, 52 mins; Martin returned same minute, injury to Wright)), Lisa Cockburn (Leicester Tigers) (for Bartlett, 66 mins), Elliann Clarke (Bristol Bears) (for Belisle, 60 mins), Fiona McIntosh (Saracens), Eva Donaldson (Leicester Tigers), Mairi McDonald (Exeter Chiefs)(for Mattinson, 62 mins), Nicole Flynn (University of Edinburgh), Chloe Rollie (Loughborough Lightening) (for Smith, 52 mins).

France: Émilie Boulard, Kelly Arbey, Nassira Konde, Gabrielle Vernier, Marine Menager, Lina Queyroi, Pauline Bourdon Sansus; Annaelle Deshaye, Agathe Sochat, Assia Khalfaoui, Manaé Feleu (captain), Madoussou Fall, Axelle Berthomieu, Gaëlle Hermet, Romane Menager.

Replacements: Manon Bigot, Ambre Mwayembe, Clara Joyeux, Charlotte Escudero, Emeline Gros, Alexandra Chambon, Lina Tuy, Morgane Bourgeois.

Referee: Sara Cox (RFU)

Assistant referees: Precious Pazani (ZRU) and Adele Robert (FBRB)

TMO: Dan Jones (RFU)

Attendance: 5,601

Guinness Player of the Match: Romane Menager (France)

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