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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

France end Scotland's Six Nations grand slam dream

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Paris — France fullback Thomas Ramos scored 17 points to end Scotland’s hopes of a Six Nations grand slam with a 32-21 win on Sunday.

Scotland lost for the first time in the championship this season after victories over England and Wales, ending their hopes of a first grand slam since 1990.

Both sides played more than an hour with 14 men after Grant Gilchrist was shown a red card for the visitors and Mohamed Haouas for the hosts.

Tight-head prop Haouas started instead of the banned Uini Atonio as Fabien Galthie’s home side played their first home game of the year six months out from hosting the Rugby World Cup after losing to Ireland two weeks ago.

Flank Hamish Watson returned for Gregor Townsend’s side after suffering concussion in November.

Townsend’s visitors, seeking just a second win in Paris in 24 years, decided to play with the strong wind in the first half but failed to make the most of the advantage early on.

After just five minutes, France flyhalf Romain Ntamack crossed and with Ramos’ conversion they led 7-0 to the joy of the majority of the crowd in the sold-out Stade de France.

Scotland’s hopes of victory took a further blow two minutes later in the Parisian sunshine as lock and vice-captain Gilchrist was shown a red card for a high tackle on Anthony Jelonch.

Les Bleus scored a second try with wing Ethan Dumortier strolling over in the corner 120 seconds later to make it 12-0 after Ramos’ missed extras.

Watson’s Test return lasted just 11 minutes as he was substituted for specialist second-row Jonny Gray with Gilchrist off and his impact was immediate as he caught a lineout on the France 5m line.

From the rolling maul the teams were level on 14 men each on the field as Haouas was shown a red card for a headbutt at a breakdown on away scrumhalf Ben White, three years after being sent off against the same opponents for a punch.

Scotland failed to make the most of good territorial gains and trailed 19-0 as Ramos intercepted Finn Russell’s pass to run in from 50m unopposed with just a quarter of the game gone.

The away side were on the scoresheet five minutes later as Russell fed centre Huw Jones and the flyhalf’s additional points made it 19-7.

Things calmed down after a frantic opening half an hour before Toulouse’s Ramos extended his side’s advantage to 22-7 at the break.

Scotland came out after the interval on top and Jones crashed over for his second try of the game after 48 minutes.

Russell’s conversion against the wind made it 22-14 with a little over half an hour to play as the Racing 92 playmaker continued to look relaxed on the field in his adopted home city.

Ramos added his second penalty of the game as Galthie’s outfit led 25-14 with 25 minutes left.

The visitors hit back with 12 minutes to play as Russell attacked the France defence and found a gap to dive over and he succeeded with the conversion to make it a four-point game.

Scotland’s hopes of a comeback were ended with 20 seconds left as player of the match Gael Fickou claimed a bonus point for France and Ramos added the extras.

AFP

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