Scotland deliver knock-out blow to French Grand Slam
SCOTLAND 28-17 FRANCE
France gonna France.
Les Bleus Grand Slam hopes are in tatters after defeat at Murrayfield. Their 2020 Guinness Six Nations chances have taken a hammer blow, too. All because of a moment of reckless stupidity.
Scotland started off the championship with defeats against Ireland and England but they have now rebounded with wins over Italy and France. Fabien Galthie's side were looking good for 35 minutes - albeit not at their best - until Mohammed Haouas decided to settle a dispute with his fists.
The Scots had taken a 6-0 lead before France scrumhalf Antoine Dupont outfoxed their defensive press with a lovely cross-field dink to set up a try for Damien Penaud. Matthieu Jalibert - on for the injured Romain Ntamack - converted that score and France were 7-6 ahead.
And then the wheels came off.
A dust-up was sparked when Gregory Aldritt got into it with Fraser Brown, inside the France 22. James Ritchie steamed in from 20 yards away and Haouas took exception to his arrival. Plot well and truly lost, he slammed a meaty punch into the face of the Scottish blindside and left the referee with no option but to send him off.
Absolutely idiotic 🥊pic.twitter.com/e2XExJf8Qv
— SportsJOE (@SportsJOEdotie) March 8, 2020
That Haouas red, a yellow card [that could easily have been red] for Paul Willemse and five other penalties all combined for a first half of poor French discipline. To make matters worse, Adam Hastings nipped over the resulting penalty and Sean Maitland grabbed a try in the corner before the whistle sounded for half-time.
On those two cards flashed to the French in the opening 40 minutes, BBC pundit Paul O'Connell commented:
"[On the Willemse tip tackle], it does not look good, I'll admit that... Rugby is not suited to super slow-mo. To me, it was only a penalty and not a yellow card."
On the sending off, the former Ireland captain agreed it was the correct call. Referring to France lock Sebastien Vahaamahina getting sent off at the World Cup for elbowing Wales' Aaron Wainwright, O'Connell said:
"You would think with the Vaamahina incident that it would have been a water-shed moment and it would never happen again. That's clearly not the case."
Maitland's second try, on 45 minutes, all but sealed the victory for the Scots but the French kept scrapping all the way until the end. Jalibert's penalty made it 21-10 but Stuart McInally's quick-thinking after a poor lineout try ended the contest with 15 minutes to go.
Charles Ollivon grabbed a consolation score in the final stages and, given how close this championship is looking, it could yet have a crucial bearing on where the championship ends up.
OUR MAN OF THE MATCH: Hamish Watson (Scotland)
WATCH THE LATEST HOUSE OF RUGBY EPISODE HERE:
SUBSCRIBE TO BAZ & ANDREW'S HOUSE OF RUGBY: https://playpodca.st/house-of-rugby-ie
Barry Murphy and Andrew Trimble are joined in the House of Rugby studio by Jerry Flannery to discuss Ireland's 35-man squad for the France game, the ongoing fixture conundrum caused by the Coronavirus and there's a nice Eimear Considine chat.