Late penalty helps France break Scottish hearts at Murrayfield
Jean Marc Doussain slots over kick to keep French title hopes alive
France’s Yoann Huget goes over for his try in the Six Nations clash against Scotland at Murrayfield. Photograph: Morgan Treacy/Inpho
Scotland 17 France 19: Scotland suffered last-gasp heartache as France snatched a Six Nations win after Jean-Marc Doussain kicked the winning penalty at Murrayfield with just 90 seconds left.
Weir did nail a nerveless penalty to put Scotland back ahead but Doussain’s late kick and 11 points from the boot of scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud handed Philipe Saint Andre’s team their third win of the tournament.
Scotland had picked up their first win of the campaign in Italy when Weir scored a last-gasp drop-goal, but this time it was the Dark Blues who suffered late agony.
However, they at least showed signs that they have moved on from their 20-0 humiliation at the hands of England the last time they ran out in Edinburgh.
But it was Cross who failed to handle Thomas Domingo’s early pressure as he buckled at the first scrum contest just two minutes in.
Machenaud took advantage as he slotted over an easy penalty, before doing the same just moments later as the Scots were forced to foul at the breakdown in a bid to halt a rampant French breakaway.
But Les Bleus scored the rugby equivalent of an own goal to hand Scotland the opening try after 11 minutes. Hogg sent an up-and-under beyond the posts but Huget and Brice Dulin collided as they both went to collect the high ball and Hogg darted in to apply the touchdown to the loose ball.
Referee Chris Pollock had to send the decision upstairs to the TMO but after a short delay he got the okay to signal a huge cheer from the home supporters.
Greig Laidlaw added the extras to put the hosts ahead, but Les Bleus responded through another Machenaud penalty.
Scotland have shaken off the wounds sustained in that meek surrender to England, though, responding to that minor setback in stunning style.
After powering to within 10 yards of the French line, they tugged their opponents one way then the other with a rapid three-man move involving Weir, Matt Scott and finally Seymour, who found a small gap to dart through for their second score.
Laidlaw again did the necessary with the conversion but Hogg failed with an ambitious 45-yard drop-goal attempt five minutes before the break while Machenaud also missed a penalty attempt on the stroke of half-time.
Scotland started the second half determined to build on their lead but were let down by their Rome hero after 47 minutes.
After his pack had done brilliantly to turn the ball over deep in French territory, Weir suffered a rush of the blood to the head as he tried an ambitious pass to Alex Dunbar, only to see Huget intercept.
It was a cruel blow for the 22-year-old as he was forced to watch the Toulouse wing dart 80 yards upfield to score under the posts, with Machenaud adding the simplest of conversions.
Laidlaw came-up short with a 40-yard penalty attempt on the hour mark but there were at least no signs that France were ready to streak away to an easy win.
Weir made amends for his earlier blunder as he floated over a perfect penalty after taking over kicking duties from Laidlaw to nudge his side back in front.
And it was from another dominant heave five minutes from time that the French pack collapsed, handing Weir a chance from almost halfway.
However, he could not repeat his match-winning act from Rome and watched in horror as his kick came down before the posts.
Scotland had just a single point lead as the clock ticked down and needed to keep their discipline.
But lock Tim Swinson’s failure to release at the breakdown handed France a simple kick in front of the posts and Doussain won it for the visitors, with no time left for a Scottish response.
SCOTLAND: Hogg; Seymour, Dunbar, Scott, Lamont; Weir, Laidlaw; Grant, Lawson, Cross; R Gray, Hamilton; Beattie, Brown, Denton. Replacements: Wilson for Beattie (16 mins), Evans for Lamont (29 mins), Ford for Lawson (51 mins), Swinson for Hamilton (68 runs). Not used: M. Low, Murray, Cusiter, Taylor.
FRANCE: Dulin; Huget, Bastareaud, Mermoz, Medard; Plisson, Machenaud; Domingo, Mach, Mas; Pape, Maestri; Vahaamahina, Lapandry, Chouly.
Replacements: Tales for Plisson, Guirado for Mach (46 mins), Slimani for Mas, Flanquart for Maestri (both 59 mins), Claassen for Vahaamahina (66 mins), Fickou for Bastareaud, Debaty for Domingo (68 mins), Doussain for Machenaud (74 mins).
Referee: Chris Pollock (New Zealand).