PARIS (Reuters) – France lacked their usual inspiration and relied on the boot of Camille Lopez to labour to a 22-16 home win against Scotland in the Six Nations on Sunday.
Flyhalf Lopez kicked five penalties and converted Gael Fickou’s try while Scotland’s points came from tries by Stuart Hogg and Tim Swinson and a couple of Finn Russell penalties.
The visitors’ hopes of a first win in Paris since 1999 were undermined when they lost scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw to an injury in the first half.
“It’s an ankle injury, we’ll see tomorrow how bad it is,” said Scotland coach Vern Cotter.
Victory left France in fourth place with five points from two games, ahead of Scotland who bagged a bonus point for losing by less than seven points. France next travel to Ireland and Scotland entertain Wales.
Before kickoff there was a minute of applause in memory of former South Africa international Joost van der Westhuizen, who died of a motor neurone disease on Monday.
France had shown a lot of attacking potential in narrow defeats to Australia and New Zealand last November, and in a 19-16 loss to England last weekend.
But their failure to finish off some flowing moves was evident again against the Scots who arrived in bullish mood after a 27-22 defeat of Ireland last weekend.
Guy Noves’s team took the lead thanks to Lopez’s first penalty after Scotland went off their feet at the ruck.
The visitors responded when Hogg finished off a fine move on the right but their advantage was shortlived as Lopez kicked another penalty to give Les Bleus a 6-5 lead.
Cotter’s side suffered a blow when Laidlaw had to be replaced by Ali Price after 25 minutes.
Lopez struck the upright with another penalty attempt before a long spell of French possession ended with Fickou touching down in the right corner and Lopez adding the extras from a tight angle.
Russell, who missed the earlier conversion as the ball went off the tee before he kicked it, reduced the arrears to two points with two penalties shortly before the interval after France were penalised for foul play on the ground.
Scotland began to sense a victory when Tommy Seymour chipped the ball ahead and released Swinson for Scotland’s second try.
Lopez made it 16-16 with a penalty.
The home side put Scotland on the back foot with strong ball-carrying runs but once again fell short as centre Remi Lamerat spilled the ball over the line.
Lopez, however, restored the advantage with a penalty and added another three minutes from time to secure a tight win.
(Reporting by Julien Pretot; Editing by Martyn Herman)
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