Six Nations: Bielle-Biarrey Try Earns France Dramatic Win Against Scotland

 

It was drama until the end at Scottish Gas Murrayfield as a late Louis Bielle-Biarrey try helped France back to winning ways with a 20-16 win over Scotland.

In a closely-fought contest, where Gregor Townsend’s Scotland held the lead for the majority of the game and could well have had the victory in the closing passage of play when their drives towards the try-line were ruled to have been held up.

France trailed for much of the encounter. Pinned back by a sizzling Ben White try in the eighth minute and the boot of Finn Russell, Bielle-Biarrey’s score in the final 10 minutes was a stroke of individual brilliance, the 20-year-old Bordeaux wing gathering his own kick through to send the sizeable French support into fever pitch.

France now prepares for the visit of Italy with four points on the board, the side digging deep to get back to winning ways following the disappointment of a Round 1 defeat.

For a second weekend in a row, Scotland will be asking themselves "what happened?" after a second-half performance that saw them lose grip on a stern command over their opposition, a losing bonus point not the highlight they were hoping for from this clash.

It did not take long for the deadlock to be broken. Probing into the French half in the opening exchanges, Scotland found the scoring touch with what will be one of the tries of this year’s Guinness Men’s Six Nations.

White was the scorer of Scotland’s team try, the scrum-half starting the play from the ruck before the rest of his backline got in on the act.

Receiving the ball from Finn Russell, Sione Tuipulotu used the run of Huw Jones to distract defenders, instead finding a drifting Duhan van der Merwe in open space.

Harry Paterson, a late inclusion in the starting XV, then made strides for his team, the debutant full-back offloading to Jones while in contact, the centre managing to squeeze the ball out to White to finish the job.

With Russell converting the score, Scottish moods were tempered as Thomas Ramos struck a penalty through the upright after the hosts strayed offside.

Surviving another scare when Gael Fickou was hauled down five metres out by Van der Merwe, Gregor Townsend’s team kicked two penalties in front of the posts as France repeatedly strayed offside, Scotland's pragmatic approach taken full in the knowledge that against a team of France’s calibre those opportunities do not present themselves often.

It did not take long for this to present itself. Pinned back as France turned to their grunt to help them up the field, the home side overcommitted in their own five-metre channel, France recognising the space that Fickou had out wide and sending him over on the right-hand touchline.

Adding the conversion, the approach to half-time was a nervy one for France. Conceding penalties deep in their own half, the side increasingly piled pressure onto themselves, which was compounded further when Uini Atonio was sent to the touchline for half-time early following a no-arms tackle.

Having sparkled in Scotland’s opening score, Paterson continued to impress on debut. This could no more be seen when the 22-year-old’s kick downfield was fumbled by Matthieu Jalibert and won his team a valuable set-piece and another opportunity to target the try-line.

Nothing came of that scrum, however, the overwhelming positivity of Scotland could not be deterred. White almost had a second try, the scrum-half unable to latch onto a grubber kick through with Damian Penaud in close proximity.

The hope of a comeback for France looked increasingly unlikely when Gregory Alldritt left the field with a lower leg injury. Caught at a ruck, Charles Ollivon took on the captaincy for the remainder of the clash, although the loss of their workhorse back row on the back of a caddy was surely not a welcome sight with Italy and Wales on the horizon.

France’s second try came as the side finally managed to break out of their half. Taking the ball from the scrum, Bielle-Biarrey put his boot to the ball, evading Scottish clutches, latching onto his own kick and dotting the ball down. Perhaps the spark that France needed, Ramos’ conversion gave them the lead for the first time in the fixture and they barely looked back from then on.

After Ramos added another penalty, hearts were in mouths across both countries as a jinking run from Kyle Rowe and a late drive toward the line from the hosts was snuffed out.

As Scotland drove again and again towards the try line, they made one last charge to get over. Sione Tuipulotu certainly seemed to think so, the centre leaping into the air with celebration, although Nic Berry had ruled that the ball was held up.

Deciding to consult with his Television Match Official, Brian MacNeice, both teams stood with bated breath as the game’s result was decided. With no clear and obvious grounding, France was the victor in Edinburgh.

Scorers:
Wales: Try: Ben White. Conversion: Finn Russell. Penalties: Finn Russell (3).
France: Tries: Gael Fickou, Louis Bielle-Biarrey. Conversions: Thomas Ramos (2). Penalties: Thomas Ramos (2).

Teams:

Scotland: 15. Kyle Rowe, 14. Kyle Steyn, 13. Huw Jones, 12. Sione Tuipulotu, 11. Duhan van der Merwe, 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ben White; 1. Pierre Schoeman, 2. George Turner, 3. Zander Fagerson, 4. Grant Gilchrist, 5. Scott Cummings, 6. Matt Fagerson, 7. Rory Darge, 8. Jack Dempsey. Replacements: 16. Ewan Ashman, 17. Alec Hepburn, 18. Elliot Millar Mills, 19. Sam Skinner, 20. Andy Christie, 21. George Horne, 22. Ben Healy, 23. Cameron Redpath.

France: 15. Thomas Ramos, 14. Damian Penaud, 13. Gael Fickou, 12. Jonathan Danty, 11. Louis Bielle-Biarrey, 10. Matthieu Jalibert, 9. Maxime Lucu; 1. Cyril Baille, 2. Peato Mauvaka, 3. Uini Atonio, 4. Cameron Woki, 5. Paul Gabrillagues, 6. Francois Cros, 7. Charles Ollivon, 8. Gregory Alldritt. Replacements: 16. Julien Marchand, 17. Sebastien Taofifenua, 18. Dorian Aldegheri, 19. Posolo Tuilagi, 20. Alexandre Roumat, 21. Paul Boudehent, 22. Nolann Le Garrec, 23. Yoram Moefana.