Scotland overcame the lack of key duo Ben White and Zander Fagerson to stage a stirring second-half fightback and defeat France 25-21 in an exhilarating Rugby World Cup warm-up match at Murrayfield.
Les Bleus, who fielded a largely second-string facet, seemed on the right track for a cushty victory as they eased right into a 21-3 half-time lead.
But the Scots, regardless of having Fagerson red-carded early within the second half, roared again to document a morale-boosting win with tries from Darcy Graham, Pierre Schoeman and substitute Dave Cherry.
The shine was taken off the triumph, nevertheless, by the sight of scrum-half White limping off with a worrying-looking ankle damage simply 4 weeks out from their World Cup opener towards South Africa, whereas they can even face an anxious wait to study the destiny of prop Fagerson following his dismissal.
Head coach Gregor Townsend made 13 modifications to the experimental group that defeated Italy every week beforehand, with most of his big-hitters restored. Finn Russell was handed the captaincy for the primary time within the absence of normal skipper Jamie Ritchie, who missed out with a minor calf damage which medical workers hope will subside in time for subsequent weekend’s rematch between the groups in Saint-Etienne.
The French beginning line-up featured three debutants in Paul Boudehent, Emilien Gailleton and Louis Bielle-Biarrey, with Antoine Dupont, Gael Fickou and Romain Ntamack amongst a raft of established gamers given the weekend off.
The group picks meant Scotland – regardless of being ranked three locations beneath the French – went into the match as favourites with bookmakers.
The hosts acquired the scoreboard up and operating within the fourth minute when Russell kicked a penalty between the posts.
However, Les Bleus seized the initiative in scintillating style within the 14th minute when Baptiste Couilloud was let out to sure over the road after a superb break-away down the fitting involving Bielle-Biarrey and Matthieu Jalibert. The latter made no mistake with the conversion.
The guests remained within the ascendancy and stretched their benefit after 24 minutes when debutant Bielle-Biarrey discovered a spot on the left and darted majestically via it after being fed by Jalibert, who duly transformed.
Scotland’s woes deepened when White was pressured off with an damage after half an hour, changed by George Horne.
The scrum-half seemed dejected as he made his approach off the pitch and punched the bench in frustration earlier than having his ankle bandaged up by medics and limping down the tunnel.
The Scots thought that they had decreased the deficit within the thirty third minute when Duhan Van Der Merwe discovered his approach over the road, however play was pulled again for a French scrum following a ahead go.
A disastrous first half for the house facet was compounded within the final motion earlier than the break when Cameron Woki picked the ball up in the back of a ruck and plunged over the road from shut vary. Jalibert once more added the extras.
Scotland began the second interval in brighter style, with Graham operating on to a cross-field kick from Russell and simply doing sufficient to plant the ball down underneath stress from Ethan Dumortier. Following a TMO assessment to approve the rating, Russell kicked the conversion.
Just because the hosts seemed to be discovering their approach again into the match, although, they suffered one other blow within the fiftieth minute when Fagerson was sin-binned for a excessive problem on Pierre Bourgarit. Following a bunker assessment, the offence was subsequently upgraded to a purple card.
However, the 14 males additional decreased the French lead within the 54th minute as Pierre Schoeman bulldozed his approach via to the touch the ball down, with Russell changing.
The Scots have been rampant they usually thought that they had acquired their noses in entrance when Blair Kinghorn bolted in behind the posts, however it was dominated out for a knock-on by Graham.
Remarkably, nevertheless, they did get themselves forward within the 67th minute when substitute Cherry pushed his approach over. This time Russell hit the publish along with his conversion try.
The captain was extra correct six minutes later as his penalty gave the Scots a four-point lead earlier than they withstood some late French stress to see out the win.