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Scotland 17-14 France: Townsend's men recover to claim win

The Scots come back to claim victory in their second Rugby World Cup warm-up match.

Joy: Greig Laidlaw salutes the crowd as Scotland take the lead at Murrayfield.
Joy: Greig Laidlaw salutes the crowd as Scotland take the lead at Murrayfield. SNS Group

Scotland breathed a sigh of relief as they came back from 11 points down to defeat France and get their Rugby World Cup preparations back on track.

A brace of scores from Scots errors put Gregor Townsend's men on the back foot but they built themselves back into the contest through Sean Maitland and Chris Harris, before holding on for a three point victory.

No sooner had Scotland gone through their opening phases than a disastrous error led to the opening try for France.

Peter Horne received the ball in midfield but floated a pass straight into the arms of winger Damian Penaud, who galloped under the posts to score on the interception.

The French defensive line was coming up quick with more than a suspicion of offside. Referee Wayne Barnes spotted it and Greig Laidlaw split the posts from inside the 22 to reduce the deficit to 7-3.

Finn Russell, the heartbeat of this Scotland team, was unable to find any of his rhythm and his mistake led to the second French try in the 27th minute.

Russell spilled a high ball just inside his own half and Les Bleus counter-attacked with devastating effect again.

Gael Fickou broke through the right channel, before unleashing Penaud outside him to run home the try. A successful conversion made it 14-3 to the visitors.

Scotland needed hope for themselves and the subdued capacity crowd at sunny Murrayfield and it came at a vital moment, with less then two minutes to go until half time.

Blair Kinghorn picked up a loose ball on the 22 and fed Chris Harris who charged for the line. The Newcastle centre was held up but when Laidlaw shunted the attack to the left Russell laid a trademark looped miss-pass to Maitland who scored in the corner.

Laidlaw converted the tricky kick from the touchline and the sides took the turnaround at 14-10 to France.

Kinghorn spurned a great chance to hand his team the team ten minutes into the second period. The Edinburgh back took a chip from Russell on the wing but panicked one-on-one with the covering Thomas Ramos and threw a poor pass inside which was spilled.

The breakthrough was only delayed until the 57th minute as Laidlaw led the pack through the phases five metres out, then picked out Harris on an outstanding line to burst over the whitewash under the posts. Laidlaw chipped Scotland into a 17-14 lead.

Injuries are the biggest worry in these Rugby World Cup warm-up games and there was a worrying moment for second row Sam Skinner as he had to be helped from the field with a leg injury after an hour.

A Mexican Wave is never a sign of a thrilling game but the crowd soon had their eyes back on the rugby when Hogg chipped and chased deep into France's 22. The flying full back was halted just short as the supporters threatened to raise the roof.

The hosts had to endure a nervy finale as France launched a last gasp push for victory, but a perfect maul defence returned possession and Hogg kicked the ball dead to the delight of the home crowd.

The Dark Blues now travel to Tblisi to face a fired-up Georgia - the last test before Townsend names his final 31 man squad for Japan.

Scotland Player Ratings

Stuart Hogg 7 - The vice captain was fired up in defence and showed glimpses of his world class elusiveness on the break.

Tommy Seymour 6 - Looked bright on the ball and solid in defence but had to be withdrawn after 16 minutes through injury.

Chris Harris 7 - Hit a glorious line to put Scotland ahead in the second half and defended with zeal.

Peter Horne 6 - A horror pass to gift France the opener and seemed hesitant in play-making.

Sean Maitland 7 - Trademark finish in the left corner to get the Scots back in the contest.

Finn Russell 6 - Goes from madness to magic in the blink of an eye. A little too much of the former in the first half but recovered to help Scotland's attack tick after the break.

Greig Laidlaw 7 - Orchestrated from 9 and was every inch the leader Scotland needed in some trying moments.

Blade Thomson 7 - Encouraging debut with some big hits and powerful carries from the number eight.

Hamish Watson 8 - The pinball wizard can make himself look to put down. The go-to man for front foot ball.

Ryan Wilson 6 - A leader in the pack with a strong defensive display. Deputised at second row for Skinner.

Sam Skinner 6 - Solid outing from the second row before being withdrawn with a worrying-looking injury.

Scott Cummings 6 - Did his chances of being a World Cup bolter no harm with a solid afternoon's work.

WP Nel 7 - Scrummed well and made some huge clear-outs to get Scotland quick ball.

George Turner 6 - Popped up in the loose with some big moments but inconsistent throwing at the line-out.

Gordon Reid 6 - Played his part in a good scrum. Almost gifted France a third try with an audacious long pass that was picked off.

Replacements 6 - Blair Kinghorn played most of the match but looked short of confidence. Pack replacements stood up well.

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