Lopez kicks France to laboured win

Date published: February 7 2015

Five penalties from Camille Lopez gave France a difficult 15-8 victory over Scotland to open their Six Nations account in Paris.

Under new boss Vern Cotter, the Scots used their pacey outside backs to cause the French lots of problems, while Blair Cowan was a menace at the breakdown.

They were however indisciplined, and three first-half penalties from Lopez gave France a 9-8 lead at the interval despite Dougie Fife’s score on the stroke of half-time.

France had more of the ball in the second half, adding another Lopez penalty, before his fifth three-pointer two minutes from time sealed the win.

It was cruel on the Scots, who played more of the rugby, but they struggle to keep hold of the ball in the second half, and despite their lack of cutting edge, the French established a stranglehold on the game.

France took the lead before having any ball in hand, earning a penalty in the first minute when Cowan found himself isolated. Lopez made no mistake to put les Bleus 3-0 up.

In a scratchy opening 20, the Scots levelled matters with a Greig Laidlaw penalty, following a scrum infringement in front of the posts.

France hit straight back, Cowan, who was proving a nuisance at the breakdown, this time pinged for sprinting offside after a Wesley Fofana break.

From there Scotland began to take a stranglehold, with the likes of Mark Bennett and Stuart Hogg looking particularly dangerous.

After the former made one half-break, Hogg went clean through when faced with two forwards. Scott Spedding tackled him just short of the line, and eventually the Scots were forced backwards before Finn Russell’s drop goal attempt went wide from in front.

Les Bleus were struggling to make ground with the ball, but after one Rory Kockott break, they got into the Scottish 22, and once more the visitors strayed offside to slow down the French attack. Lopez slotted three more points to make it 9-3 to the home side.

On the stroke of half-time, Scotland finally got the try their attacking play deserved. First they made ground down the left, Hogg again at the heart of it, and with France scrambling, they moved it back to the right.

There Fife, on for the injured Tommy Seymour, went over after a lovely final pass from tighthead Euan Murray. Laidlaw missed the conversion however, as France led 9-8 at the break.

The Scots started the second half well, but it was again France who scored first, Fife stupidly giving away a penalty. After Lopez had kicked loosely Fife slipped into touch, giving away a lineout. In his frustration he threw the ball away, stopping France from playing quickly, and gave the French fly-half three more points.

Cotter’s side were giving away too many penalties, and after another offence in midfield at a ruck, France set up a rolling maul. They eventually got going, with Benjamin Kayser breaking clear, but with the home side camped on the Scottish line, Pascal Pap