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Lopez boots France to 15-8 win over Scotland

Camille Lopez kicks 15 points as France beats Scotland 15-8 in Six Nations

Scotland's Fin Russell, center, France's Pascal Pape, left, and Ysoann Maestri during their six nations rugby union international match between France...
Scotland's  Tim Visser, left, and Richie Gray, right, tackles France's Camille Lopez, center, during their Six-Nations rugby union international match...

France Rugby Six Nations

Scotland's Fin Russell, center, France's Pascal Pape, left, and Ysoann Maestri during their six nations rugby union international match between France...

France Rugby Six Nations

Scotland's Tim Visser, left, and Richie Gray, right, tackles France's Camille Lopez, center, during their Six-Nations rugby union international match...

PARIS (AP) -- Flyhalf Camille Lopez kicked five penalties as France clawed out a 15-8 win over Scotland in their Six Nations opening match on Saturday.

Both teams played with verve in freezing temperature at the Stade de France, with Scotland substitute Dougie Fife scoring the sole try at the stroke of halftime to reduce France's lead to 9-8.

The Scots, chasing a first win in France since 1999, put on a display of pugnacity and guts, but were made to pay for their indiscipline as Lopez hit five of his six goalkicks.

France spent most of the second half on Scotland's turf, but lacked imagination to breach the sturdy defense.

Typically, in the 72nd minute, France wing Yoann Huget picked up a dropped pass which his opposite, Tim Visser, missed going for the intercept. Huget bowled off Scotland fullback Stuart Hogg and looked set to cross, but had the ball knocked out of his hand from behind by diving center Mark Bennett.

It was a tight match from the start, as Scotland's Jonny Gray stole the ball from the first France lineout.

France, sporting red jerseys for the first time in 56 years, and Scotland traded penalties before center Mathieu Bastareaud ignited the home side's first big move, surging through the midfield to win another penalty in front of the posts, as Scotland was caught offside.

Lopez, the chosen kicker over scrumhalf Rory Kockott, made it 6-3, and France plowed on, playing the ball wide and forcing the visitors to make a lot of tackles.

Hogg missed a 51-meter penalty, and rang the wake-up bell for the Scots in the 22nd minute as he went within five meters of the tryline, opposite Scott Spedding making a last-minute tackle. The Scots squandered good field position when flyhalf Finn Russell, who was into everything, hit a dropped goal wide.

Scotland was penalized again for offside, and Lopez extended France's lead to 9-3 with three minutes remaining.

The visitors' riposte was a brilliant team effort. Center Alex Dunbar offloaded the ball for Hogg, who was stopped in the left corner. The Scots moved the ball right, and Russell's long pass found prop Euan Murray, who offloaded for Fife to score his first try for Scotland. Laidlaw missed the conversion, and the French remained in front at halftime.

France was quickly on the front foot, with Murray and Richie Gray stopping a powerful charge from Bastareaud.

A mistake from Fife, who threw the ball away in anger after slipping out of play, resulted in another penalty for the French, which Lopez converted. Another penalty came after the Scots collapsed the scrum but Lopez hit the post.

Scotland No. 8 John Beattie was sin-binned in the 61st for pulling down a maul illegally, and France took advantage by pegging the Scots deep in their camp, but couldn't score.

France earned a final penalty of the dozen conceded by Scotland two minutes from time for holding, and Lopez coolly hit it to seal France's ninth straight win over the Scots.


Updated : 2021-09-27 22:01 GMT+08:00