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France emerge victorious after a closely fought battle with Scotland

France's wing Kelly Arbey scores a try during the Six Nations international women's rugby union match between Scotland and France at The Hive Stadium in Edinburgh on March 30, 2024. (Photo by Andy Buchanan / AFP) (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images)

France took their second win of the Women’s Six Nations as they beat a courageous Scotland side 15-5 in Edinburgh.

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The scoreline was drastically different to the result of the meeting between the two sides in the 2023 Six Nations when France took the 55-0 victory.

A sole try in the first half from Ellis Martin gave Scotland the narrow 5-3 lead at the break, but France responded with a score from 18-year-old Kelly Arbey in the second half to put themselves back ahead.

Les Bleues would eventually win the match with the clock in the red as Emeline Gros crossed the line for their second try as they eventually managed to wear down the defence.

Fixture
Womens Six Nations
Scotland Women's
5 - 15
Full-time
France Women's
All Stats and Data

Before kickoff, the ball was presented by ultramarathon runner Jasmin Paris in front of a bustling crowd at the Hive, before Scotland’s Louise McMillan led the teams out for her 50th cap.

Romane Ménager made a menacing break for the line and made it to within five metres, but
Meryl Smith turned the ball over after an important tackle to stop the French number eight. Scotland’s possession was short-lived as they gave away a penalty for taking a player without the ball.

The lineout wasn’t fully firing for either team in the opening minutes, and luckily for Scotland, the French throw fell in their favour for Helen Nelson to clear up at the back and diffuse the early danger.

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Lina Queyroi opened the scoring in the 13th minute with a penalty as Scotland were penalised for a deliberate knock-on.

Scotland had a chance to level the score with a penalty of their own three minutes later, but rather uncharacteristically compared to her perfect kicking the week before, Nelson missed the posts and France remained ahead.

Alex Stewart, only in her second match for Scotland, was instrumental in stalling the French attack as they came knocking again through a kick from Queyroi.

France continued to attack, but with it came persistent Scottish defence, Malcolm counter-rucking to force a French knock-on. As a result, the hosts were able to regather after having a kick charged down on their own line to attack on the halfway line after a fantastic clearance from Lisa Thomson was caught with a French foot in touch.

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French centre Gabrielle Vernier left the field after clashing heads with a teammate in the 27th minute, but passed her HIA to return to the field to see out the half.

The now much-improved lineout eventually proved fruitful in the 35th for Bryan Easson’s side, splintering the French defence to allow Martin to score her first-ever try for Scotland after a solid push from the forward pack, on what was her first start for her country.

Nelson’s conversion attempt missed the posts, but Scotland held the two-point lead as they went into half-time after a fairly evenly matched first 40 minutes in Edinburgh despite France being the firm favourites going into round two.

Scotland’s defence was called into action in the second half as France came out of the blocks with a point to prove. Rhona Lloyd put in a huge tackle to bring down a charging Emilie Boulard, but a rushed kick from Queyroi fell dead to give Scotland the scrum and put a pause on the French attack.

Mistakes too crept in for the hosts as Caity Mattinson kicked the ball out on the full, and an error-strewn opening to the second half continued as France’s Arbey knocked on an offload from Nassira Kondé to prevent a potential try-scoring opportunity.

Seconds after coming onto the field as a replacement, Scotland hooker Molly Wright went down hard after a tackle which resulted in a lengthy pause in play as she received necessary medical treatment before she was stretchered off the pitch. Try-scorer Martin, who had just made way for Wright, came back on to allow for contested scrums.

Arbey’s previous error was soon forgotten as France worked through the phases after the scrum with slick handling from Vernier and Boulard sent her over in the corner for her first senior try for Les Bleues. The touchline conversion attempt from Queyroi was unsuccessful, but France were now ahead once again.

The French fly-half had a second opportunity to extend their lead minutes later, but once again missed the uprights, the kickers on both teams experiencing vastly different success rates compared to their perfection in round one.

The Scottish defence prevailed again with just over ten minutes left on the clock as Evie Gallagher secured a try-stopping turnover as an energised French side were hunting for their second try.

Scotland held France at 5-8 as the clock ticked down, but the visitors had time for one more score at the death to seal the victory through a try from Gros after they piled on the pressure to break down a valiant Scottish defence. Queyroi added the two points to put an end to the match.

France took four points from the win, additionally denying Scotland the losing bonus point with their final try.

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