Scotland edge out France at Murrayfield

After all the analysis and "where did we go wrong" navel-gazing about the Cardiff debacle, Gregor Townsend offered a conclusive answer in selecting 160 caps worth of extra experience for Scotland's second NatWest 6 Nations game against France on Sunday.

Celebrating his restoration to Scotland's starting line-up for the first time in 12 months, the 32-year-old scrumhalf, who plays his club rugby in France for Clermont - also weighed in with two first-half conversions for a personal tally of 22 points. But Teddy Thomas swiftly turned an innocuous position into an incisive attack, slipping all too easily past a feeble attempt at a tackle from Russell, evading Peter Horne, then gliding inside Stuart Hogg to touch down behind the posts.

The French extended their advantage from a second successive penalty kick, but Scotland hit back through Sean Maitland. We are fortunate in a lot of ways that we have a lot of cohesion in our group, whether it's the Glasgow guys playing together or Finn and Greig having played a number of times (in tandem) for Scotland.

"We felt like we were testing them and knew if we held onto the ball, we would cause them trouble".

France made it easy for the home team, constantly giving away penalties in the ruck. Even so, after putting in such a flawed performance, Scotland were still just six points down with the final quarter to come - and when Laidlaw reduced the deficit to three, the feeling grew that the match could still be won. In the 64th minute Laidlaw had another penalty attempt and tied it up at 26-26 with a great long-range strike. "It was really to see if he could last 80 and bringing on Ali (Price the other scrumhalf) was a positive for the team".

It proved to be a master-stroke, providing the Scots with the momentum that took them into the lead for the first time with Laidlaw's fifth penalty ten minutes from time.

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Scotland have not beaten England since 2008, with nine defeats and a draw in the interim.

This week Jacques Brunel lifted the lid on his selection decisions. The winger touched down after just two minutes thanks to a brilliant solo run.

Scotland are off the mark in the Six Nations with a 32-26 victory over France helped by the pinpoint right boot of skipper Greig Laidlaw.

Newcastle Falcons tighthead prop Jon welsh is replaced by Simon Berghan while his Edinburgh teammate Grant Gilchrist is preferred to Ben Toolis in the second-row, and Ryan Wilson beats Cornell Du Preez to the No 8 shirt, with the latter dropped from the match-day squad completely.

David Denton and Blair Kinghorn both come on to the replacements' bench, with the latter set for his worldwide debut.

"We must respect the rules otherwise we won't make it", added Guirado.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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