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Nervy France back to winning ways

France returned to winning ways, beating Scotland 41-10 in Lille.

A nervy and anxious France took a while to settle I the first half, the pain and tension from the defeat to England in the last round being evident from the start when their kick-off failed to go 10m.

Even so, France were still massively dominant up front, the Scots scrum unable to offer any resistance. Just five minutes in the first Scots scrum was driven backwards at a rapid rate, the resulting penalty then put France on the Scots 5m line and - despite some heroic defence – the furst French score came from Gabrielle Vernier finding space out on the right.

Ten minutes later a second French try came from a French scrum, the Scots being held, Menager breaking away, flicking out to Bourdon and 10-0.

But France still were not settled, and Scotland were managing to disrupt what they were trying to do. Some clever play took the Scots to the French 5m line and after a long period of pressure Rhona Lloyd found space to dive over. With 12 minutes to go Scotland were back in the game, 10-5

But France finished the half strongly with two well-taken tries. A well timed kick over the top by Emma Coudert put Vernier in for her second try, and then right on halftime Doriane Constanty saw a gap and exploded away for the bonus point try, giving France a 24-5 lead at the break.

France started slowly in the second half, and it took them 13 minutes to add to their score – a perfectly weighted kick by Coudert again finding Vernier for her third try. 31-5.

Three minutes later Boujard – who had just come on for Constanty – picked up a Scottish kick deep in her own half and ran forward to start a great passage of play down the Scots right wing, Boujard herself being on the end of the final pass. 36-5.

Scotland pulled a try back through Emma Wassell on 67m, squeezing through the French defensive line, but France pushed past 40 points shortly afterwards when a perfect cross kick frin Camille Imart found Lea Murie in open space. 41-10.

Which is how the game ended. A good win for France, but not nearly as comfortable as expected, while Scotland will have come away with some positives.

FRANCE: Doriane Constanty (Stade Français Paris) Léa Murie (Stade Toulousain) 13. Marine Ménager (Montpellier RC) 12. Gabrielle Vernier (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois) 11. Ian Jason (Stade Toulousain) 10. Emma Coudert (ASM Romagnat Rugby Féminin) 9. Pauline Bourdon (AS Bayonnaise) 1. Dhia Maylis Traore (Stade Toulousain) 2. Caroline Thomas (ASM Romagnat Rugby Féminin) 3. Clara Joyeux (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) 4. Safi N’Diaye (Montpellier RC) 5. Audrey Forlani (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) 6. Gaëlle Hermet (c) (Stade Toulousain) 7. Coumba Diallo (Stade Français Paris) 8. Romane Ménager (Montpellier RC)
Replacements: 16. Laure Touye (Blagnac Rugby Féminin) 17. Lise Arricastre (Lons Rugby Féminin Béarn Pyrénées) 18. Sabine Argagnon (AS Bayonnaise) 19. Lenaïg Corson (Stade Français Paris) 20. Céline Ferer (AS Bayonnaise) 21. Yanna Rivoalen (Lille Métropole RC Villeneuvois) 22. Camille Imart (Stade Toulousain) 23. Caroline Boujard (Montpellier RC)

SCOTLAND:  Chloe Rollie (Lille); Rhona Lloyd (Loughborough), Hannah Smith (Hillhead/Jordanhill), Lisa Thomson (captain, Darlington), Annabel Sergeant (Heriot’s); Helen Nelson (Montpellier), Sarah Law (Edinburgh Univ); Lisa Cockburn (Darlington), Lana Skeldon (Watsonians), Megan Kennedy (Stirling County), Emma Wassell (Heriot’s), Nicola Howat (Edinburgh Univ), Sarah Bonar (Loughborough), Rachel McLachlan (Stirling County), Jade Konkel (Harlequins).
Replacements: Jodie Rettie (Saracens), Katie Dougan (Gloucester Hartpury), Mairi Forsyth (Stirling County), Lucy Winter (Edinburgh Univ), Debs McCormack (Harlequins), Jenny Maxwell (Loughborough), Lisa Martin (Lille), Abi Evans (Hillhead/Jordanhill).